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"There would have been George dead had he not acted decisively and instantaneously in that moment when he was being disarmed," the brother of George Zimmerman told CNN's Piers Morgan last night in one of the most extensive interviews yet with someone from the family of the man who shot and killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.

With a GOP presidential primary coming up on April 3, Wisconsin voters have found themselves besieged by political ads, reports NPR's David Schaper on Friday's Morning Edition.

Talking to voters in La Crosse, Schaper found that residents have grown weary of the onslaught. It has been massive: The Red, White And Blue Fund — the superPAC supporting Rick Santorum — has so far spent almost a half-million dollars on ads attacking front-runner Mitt Romney.

There was a 0.8 percent rise in personal spending in February from January, the Bureau of Economic Analysis just reported. It was the strongest gain in seven months, according to The Associated Press.

But personal income rose just 0.2 percent, the bureau adds. And "disposable personal income," what's left after personal taxes, also rose only 0.2 percent.

One day after fellow Republicans in the House ensured passage of his version of a 2013 federal budget, there are reports that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is about to endorse Mitt Romney's bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

The Associated Press says it has been told by two Republican officials that "Ryan's endorsement could come as soon as Friday, when Romney is scheduled to give an economic speech in Appleton, Wis."

Everybody, it seems, is talking about tonight's Mega Millions lottery drawing because the jackpot's up to a record $640 million. (Update at 12:15 p.m. ET: Officials just increased the estimated jackpot, which began today at an already record $540 million.)

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Rome Drives Away Photogenic Gladiators

Mar 30, 2012

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne with bad news for gladiators. Nowadays performers in Rome who dress like those ancient combatants earn money by posing in photos with tourists. As of today, they've been driven away from the Coliseum. Roman officials say gladiators will no longer be able to peddle pictures outside their classic arena. The no-pay rule only applies around the Coliseum. Still, it's not hard to tell how gladiators will react - thumbs down. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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NPR's business news starts with BlackBerry backpedaling.

Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, says it's turning its focus back to corporate customers. This follows its failure to break into consumer markets dominated by iPhones and androids. Last quarter, the company lost $125 million. Analysts say BlackBerry's main problem is its trouble running third-party applications. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

President Obama is expected to sign another stopgap funding bill that avoids a weekend shutdown of thousands of transportation construction projects. The measure gives a 90-day funding extension for road, bridge and rail construction projects.

Best Buy Rethinks Big-Box Model

Mar 30, 2012

Best Buy is trying to wriggle out of the big box. The electronics retailer has a lot of real estate in its giant blue stores, but it isn't profitable space: In its most recent quarter, the company reported a $1.7 billion loss. So it's shedding stores and workers — and rethinking its big-box concept.

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And today's last word in business is, can you eat that?

You've heard of mystery meats, right? Well, how about mystery powders - courtesy of the ever-innovative food industry?

NPR science correspondent Allison Aubrey asked me to come up and have a sneak peek at what she's cooking up for Monday's MORNING EDITION.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Allison Aubrey, you always get me into trouble somehow. Why am I up here at your desk?

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Anything standing out here?

In Houston Thursday, former President George H.W. Bush endorsed Mitt Romney's run for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush's endorsement is one more signal from the Republican establishment for the party to close ranks behind Romney.

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Ask almost anyone about negative political ads, you'll likely get a negative response. They're widely disliked, yet campaigns keep airing them over and over and over again. That's especially true right now in the state of Wisconsin, ahead of next week's Republican primary.

NPR's David Schaper reports that as hated as these ads are, they are seen as effective.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Flip on the TV anywhere in Wisconsin this week and it won't be long until you hear this...

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

After a reporter asked President Obama about the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., GOP opponents said the president was being divisive by bringing up racial issues. David Greene talks to Lester Spence, an assistant professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, about race and politics.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

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And I'm David Greene.

A documentary that has been stirring up headlines for weeks finally opens today. "Bully," from producer Harvey Weinstein, has made news for its controversial R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Weinstein argues the R rating prevents the movie's intended audience - children - from seeing it, and so he decided to release "Bully" unrated.

The Motion Picture Association of America was going to give Bully an R rating for language, but the movie's producer decided to send it out with no rating. The nation's second-largest cinema chain AMC will show it, but Cinemark, the third-largest chain will not.

The documentary Bully opens in theaters Thursday, and the heated controversy over the appropriate rating for the film has frustrated many schools hoping to use it as a teaching tool.

Administrators have struggled to find effective ways to help curb bullying in their schools in recent years, and a growing number of bullying prevention programs have emerged to meet the demand.

The Obama administration has announced a new policy to handle the risks posed by legitimate biological research that could, in the wrong hands, threaten the public.

The move comes in response to a huge debate over recent experiments on bird flu virus that got funding from the National Institutes of Health. Critics say the work created mutant viruses that could potentially be dangerous for people, or give terrorists a road map for making a bioweapon.

This is the first story in a Planet Money series on money in politics. We'll have more this afternoon on All Things Considered, and this weekend on This American Life.

We think of lawmakers having one job: making laws. But there's a second job most lawmakers have to do. And it's a big job.

The killings in France of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers of North African descent came during a presidential campaign in which immigration has dominated campaign rhetoric. The Toulouse gunman, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, was shot dead by police, but the tragedy has prompted national soul-searching.

Myanmar has an election this Sunday where only a small fraction of the parliamentary seats are at stakes — and yet the ballot is commanding international attention.

The closely watched election is seen as a test of whether the country's rulers are sincere about reforms they have been introducing over the past year.

If the vote is seen as free and fair, it could prompt Western governments to begin lifting sanctions imposed during the half-century of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Titanic is back. The 1997 blockbuster featuring star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose is being released in 3-D. Starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic was the highest-grossing movie in history — until Avatar.

Both films were directed by James Cameron, who has just returned from a landmark expedition to the deepest point in the ocean: a spot in the far western Pacific called the Challenger Deep.

In 2010, David Plant was diagnosed with skin cancer. The cancer has since metastasized to other parts of his body, and David is now contemplating the end of his life. So, just before his 81st birthday, he sat down with his stepson to talk about their life together.

As Frank Lilley explains, "David is my stepfather, but I certainly consider him my father."

The two spoke in in New London, N.H. And Frank began with a question.

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From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Melissa Block.

The Fair Labor Association, a labor rights group, has released its audit of Apple's largest supplier in China, Foxconn. The group found what it calls significant issues with working conditions at three factories there, including more than 50 violations of the FLA's code of conduct and Chinese labor law.

After this week's oral arguments at the Supreme Court, lawmakers and health policy experts are starting to ponder what had — until recently — been unthinkable to many: What if the court strikes down the entire Affordable Care Act?

College basketball's Final Four men's teams will play in New Orleans Saturday, to decide which two squads will play in Monday night's NCAA championship game. The first match-up pits the University of Louisville against tournament favorite — and archrival — the University of Kentucky. In the second game, Ohio State University will face the University of Kansas.

We don't have all of the facts from the night of Feb. 26 when Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer. But in remembering his son, Tracy Martin has touched on how the Florida teen saved his father from a house fire when the boy was 9 years old. On Wednesday, I asked Martin to tell me what happened that day.

The search for the killer of America's bees is a little bit like an Agatha Christie novel.

Thursday's guilty plea and plea agreement from the former superintendent of the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia is a key step in the effort to seek criminal charges further up the corporate ladder at Massey Energy, according to court documents and the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of West Virginia.

When Kaiser Health News asked for questions during the Supreme Court arguments this week, one that didn't seem to get addressed in court was this:

What happens to people who have already benefited from the law? This would include seniors who got rebates in the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole," for example. Would they have to give the money back to ... the manufacturers? The government?

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