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Native American comedian Charlie Hill says he's living the American dream.

Actually, make that the "indigenous dream," which he prefers to call it.

On Monday evening, one of New York's most cherished cultural institutions celebrated an anniversary. The Delacorte Theater, home of the free annual Shakespeare in the Park, turned 50, and Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline led an all-star cast in a staged reading of Romeo and Juliet.

When Kline was still a student in the drama program at The Juilliard School, he made his professional debut at the Delacorte. "My first job was carrying a spear in Richard III," he remembers.

Pakistan's National Assembly has been summoned to elect a new prime minister for the fragile coalition of President Asif Ali Zardari. A consensus candidate, current Textile Industry Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, emerged soon after the Supreme Court's dramatic firing of outgoing Premier Yusuf Reza Gilani.

The court disqualified Gilani from office this week for defying court orders to pursue dormant corruption charges against President Zardari.

Mexicans go to the polls July 1 to choose their next president, and polls show that voters seem inclined to embrace the past. The center-left Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled the country for more than seven decades before being ousted 12 years ago, holds a solid lead.

But Mexico's young are making their voices heard: Some fear a return of authoritarian rule; others simply want jobs.

Making Noise

Today is the summer solstice in the western hemisphere: It marks the longest day of the year and also marks the first day of summer.

That's pretty obvious in the northeast today. Here in Washington, D.C., it's still 97 degrees and it's almost 7 p.m. The AP reports that New York City, Boston and Philadelphia all hit the 90s.

The AP adds:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launches what it's calling the "Fortnight for Freedom" on Thursday — two weeks of praying and fasting because the bishops believe the church's religious freedom is being threatened by the Obama administration's health care policies.

"This is the first time that I've felt personally attacked by my government," parishioner Kathleen Burke says after a service at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Bethesda, Md.

Nearly a week has gone by since President Obama announced a new immigration policy that could halt the deportation of some 800,000 young people brought to the country illegally.

While Republicans on Capitol Hill were quick to criticize the president for bypassing Congress, they've been unusually silent on the question of whether these illegal immigrants should be getting such a break.

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Well, if like me, you're more than a little mystified by Operation Twist, the Federal Reserve policy that's being extended, join me now for a four-minute tutorial. We've got a very classy tutor, economics professor Alan Blinder of Princeton, who is a former Fed vice chairman. Welcome back to the program.

ALAN BLINDER: Thanks very much, Robert.

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The Senate has narrowly rejected an effort to scrap tough limits on mercury emitted from power plants. The Obama administration has trumpeted the rules affecting coal-burning power plants as an environmental triumph. But to industry groups, and many Republicans, these rules are the latest salvo in a war against coal. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted today to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. He's accused of refusing to turn over certain documents related to the controversial gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious.

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The U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to rule on Arizona's controversial immigration law and a lot of people in that state are watching closely. Tonight, nearly two dozen Spanish language radio and TV stations in Arizona are scheduled to run the same program about the immigration law. As NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, they're walking a fine line between journalism and advocacy.

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One power plant in particular is on the minds of many here in Southern California. It's the San Onofre nuclear plant, roughly 60 miles south of Los Angeles. The plant was shut down back in January because of a leak that released a small amount of radioactive steam. It's been off-line ever since. And this week, nuclear regulators called what led to the leak, a significant, serious safety issue.

PHOTOS: A Scene From A Greek Wildfire

Jun 20, 2012

We were stunned by the photographs coming out of a wildfire near Athens today. They were taken by Angelos Tzortzinis after a fire that burned inside an air force base.

The AP moved a story about it, earlier today. But Tzortzinis found that the fire had also affected an encampment of Romas and took these haunting images for the Agence France Presse:

Aung San Suu Kyi would probably not be the symbol of Burma's quest for democracy without her experiences at Oxford University. She studied there in the 1960s and raised a family there in the '70s.

Suu Kyi returned to her alma mater Wednesday to receive the honorary degree she was unable to collect for more than a decade while under house arrest.

Minnesota is seing the worst flooding in decades. Heavy flooding in Duluth caused the evacuations of homes and also caused the death 11 zoo animals at the Superior Zoo in Duluth.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that two seals escaped from their exhibits. MPR reports:

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It's like discovering a distant cousin, a really distant cousin. It's like learning that someone you had barely heard of is actually part of the family. In this case, the family is the Indo-European family of languages. And the umpteenth cousin is a language called Burushaski. It's spoken by about 90,000 people, the Burusho people, and nearly all of them live in Pakistan. A few hundred live in India.

Just to give a sense of what it sounds like, here's a joke in Burushaski that we came across online.

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Well, actually, in Washington...

BLOCK: Where franchisee meets lawmaker...

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SIEGEL: Yes, that's right. Some of the nation's largest pizza chains are lobbying on Capitol Hill to deliver a piping hot message.

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Immigration is, of course, an issue of concern to all Americans, but it's of special concern to Latinos. As David Welna just reported, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials - or NALEO - is holding its annual convention in Orlando. Mitt Romney will speak to the group tomorrow, about his views on immigration policy. And the other headlining speakers? President Obama, Jeb Bush, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Sen. Marco Rubio are all likely to address the issue.

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The story of the so-called NAFTA Superhighway is long and winding — and without a new influx of funds, the end of the road may still be a long way off.

When complete, Interstate 69 would pass through eight states and provide a direct route through the Midwest between Canada and Mexico.

Most of the states along the route are upgrading existing roads to interstate standards. Indiana, in contrast, must build almost 100 miles of entirely new road for its portion of the project.

We are a nation that puts apple pie above all other pies, and yesterday's survey confirms our audience falls right in line when it comes to the forbidden fruit. But that's not the whole scoop on popular pies.

As we reported yesterday, top American pies bought in the store are apple, pumpkin, cherry, blueberry, and Dutch apple.

When 'Madagascar' Meets Children's Claritin

Jun 20, 2012

Merck is catching flak for marketing Children's Claritin with cute cartoon characters from the latest installment in the Madagascar movie series.

Acting along partisan lines, with a vote of 23 to 17, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted this afternoon to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Republicans, who control the committee, say Holder's Justice Department has not turned over all the documents that the committee needs to see as it probes the so-called Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation.

And they want to know more about why the Justice Department initially told a senator that it had not pursued such an operation.

On July 1, 15 California state parks are slated to be closed permanently to the public — the first such closures in the state's history. They're the victim of budget cuts in a state with a $16 billion shortfall.

Over the past year, park enthusiasts have scrambled to save dozens of parks from closure, including Henry W. Coe State Park, California's second-biggest state park, located about 30 miles south of San Jose.

Reprisals after three church bombings on Sunday have continued in Nigeria, and The Associated Press reports the death toll has reached 98.

The AP adds:

"A rescue services official said more than 98 people have died since Sunday after a trio of church bombings sparked reprisals in Kaduna state. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

Sahar Sabet of Alpharetta, Ga., says that when she was in an Apple store at the local North Pointe Mall last week to buy an iPad and an iPhone, she and her uncle were overheard by a clerk.

The sales rep asked what language they were speaking and where they were from. When they said they were speaking Farsi and originally from Iran, Sabet tells Atlanta's WSB-TV, the clerk's response was a shock:

"I can't sell this to you."

The Federal Reserve is ready to take further action — including the purchase of Treasury bonds — "to provide support for the economy," the Chairman of the Fed Ben Bernanke said during a press conference.

Bernanke also said that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee had "marked down" their outlooks on the economy.

Most expect there to be little change in the unemployment rate through the end of the year. The consensus, said Bernanke, is that the Fed expects "slow progress" on unemployment and most opinions are "weighted toward slower growth" on the GDP.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Forty years after Watergate, President Obama cites executive privilege. Rubio's out that he's in again, and after baseball phenom Bryce Harper leads off, Harry Reid hits second. It's Wednesday and time for a...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That's a clown question, bro...

CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?

Controversy erupted in 2009 when the Texas State Board of Education debated changes to the state's textbooks that centered on the teaching of evolution.

The Revisionaries documents the Board of Education's contentious battle, focusing in large part on Don McLeroy — a young-earth creationist and, at the time, chairman of the Texas Board of Education. The film is being screend at the American Film Institute's Silverdocs Film Festival.

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