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9:32am

Tue November 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Chinese Authorities Send Outspoken Artist Ai Weiwei A $2.4 Million Tax Bill

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 9:36 am

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing on June 23, 2011.

Peter Parks AFP/Getty Images

Artist Ai Weiwei, who earlier this year was jailed by Chinese authorities for nearly three months, said today that the government there has sent him a $2.4 million tax bill.

"His supporters," the BBC says, say the bill and accusations that he owes back taxes "are part of a plot to silence Mr. Ai, who is an outspoken critic of the government."

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9:15am

Tue November 1, 2011
Sports

A Final Resting Place On The Green, But No Mulligans

Originally published on Fri November 18, 2011 6:13 pm

Grieving families may chip shots out of the rough, or the sand trap, as well as putter on the green.

Courtesy Sunset Hills Memorial Park

Americans aren't going for coffins like they used to. Cremation is becoming more popular and many families opt to dispose of the ashes somewhere other than a cemetery.

That's not good news for the funeral and cemetery business. Arne Swanson, market director for Dignity Memorial Service Corporation International, recalls watching a family spreading the ashes of a loved one on the fairway of a golf course.

"I thought, 'There must be a better way,' " he says. "There just simply was not a product to meet the needs of this family."

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9:10am

Tue November 1, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

The Case For A 'Check In' Instead Of A Checkup

It can't hurt to ask if that blood test is really necessary.

iStockphoto.com

People who visit their primary care doctors for routine care often find themselves poked, prodded and advised in all kinds of unnecessary and unhelpful ways.

Add it all up, and the cost of the dubious tests and medical interventions runs to about $6.8 billion a year. The annual checkup, an American medical tradition, is a prime offender.

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8:29am

Tue November 1, 2011

8:09am

Tue November 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Stunned By Greek Plan For Bailout Referendum, Markets Drop

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Yiannis Liakos AFP/Getty Images

"Markets plunged Tuesday on fears that Europe's plan to save the euro was already unraveling after the shock decision by Greek Prime Minister to call a referendum on the country's latest rescue," The Associated Press writes.

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7:48am

Tue November 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Hundreds Of Millions Missing From MF Global, 'New York Times' Reports

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 2:08 pm

Not only has MF Global had to file for bankruptcy protection, now there's this news about the securities firm run by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D):

The New York Times reports that:

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7:25am

Tue November 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Herman Cain Now Recalls 'Settlement' With Accuser

Republican presidential contender Herman Cain during an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute on Monday.

Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain was consistent Monday in saying he has "never sexually harassed anyone." But some parts of his response to a Politico report about past allegations had shifted by day's end.

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7:08am

Tue November 1, 2011
Strange News

Liquor-Shop Shenanigans: A Nonagenarian And A Ghost

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 10:28 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with tales of British alcohol. The one stop shop in Essex refused to sell whiskey to Diane Taylor. She didn't have proper I.D., and the shop said rules are rules, even though she is 92. Ms. Taylor at least caused less trouble than the ghost supposedly inhabiting a pub in Birmingham, England. At Halloween, the ghost has smashed bottles of wine it didn't like. It's not clear why the staff thinks it's a ghost and not a customer. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

6:59am

Tue November 1, 2011

5:34am

Tue November 1, 2011
Hard Times: A Journey Across America

Calif. County Yearns For 'The Way It Used To Be'

Craig and Linda Black sit at a table in the yard of their home in Vacaville, Calif. They are desperately trying to hang on to their home after falling behind on their mortgage payments.

Richard Gonzales NPR

Part of a monthlong series

There's a lot to like about Solano County, Calif., a collection of bedroom communities between San Francisco and Sacramento: great climate, diversity and until recently, very stable neighborhoods.

But it also has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country. Its largest city, Vallejo, went bankrupt. And unemployment here is 11 percent, higher than the national average.

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5:30am

Tue November 1, 2011
Monkey See

Mindy Kaling On Diets, High School And Other American Pastimes

Mindy Kaling is an Emmy Award-nominated writer and an actress on NBC's The Office.

Autumn deWilde

Much of Mindy Kaling's humor is rooted in something that might seem unfeasible: using logic to explore American culture. But it works — and works well — because Kaling uses a type of circular logic that's all her own. Just consider this recent Tweet: "Can everyone buy my book please? I wanna quit the business and homeschool my kids real weird."

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5:19am

Tue November 1, 2011
Law

Supreme Court To Weigh Case Of False Testimony

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that sounds more like a John Grisham novel than a Supreme Court case.

The issue is whether police investigators have total immunity from being sued for giving false testimony before a grand jury. The case has all the elements of a spooky saga, involving power, influence and money — all used to silence the critics of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the largest hospital in Albany, Ga.

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4:54am

Tue November 1, 2011
Latin America

In The Hills Of Rio, Shantytowns Get A Makeover

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 9:23 pm

Santa Marta is one of the many slums that dot the hillsides of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio, host of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, is now trying to remake these slums, or favelas, long wracked by poverty and violence.

Vanderlei Almeida AFP/Getty Images

On a recent day in Rio de Janeiro, police radios crackle in Providencia, a warren of cinder-block homes and narrow walkways where drugs and violence were once common.

But these days, it's just routine chatter. All is safe in this favela, one of the hundreds of slums built chockablock on the city's steep hills. A Rio advertising company is leading a tour for its employees and representatives of other companies.

Among those who have come is Raoni Lotar, a 30-year-old Carioca — resident of Rio.

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4:53am

Tue November 1, 2011
Around the Nation

Starbucks Hopes To Kick-Start Job Creation

Starbucks is teaming up with a network of community-based financial institutions to help create jobs. Beginning Tuesday anyone can make a tax-deductable contribution at a Starbucks store or online to the Create Jobs for USA Fund. The money will go to companies so they can hire or retain American workers.

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4:52am

Tue November 1, 2011
Law

Official Admits 'Mistake' In Gun-Trafficking Case

U.S. Border Patrol vehicles drive from a checkpoint in December 2010, as teams of border officers comb the Arizona desert about 10 miles north of Mexico in search for a suspect in the fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in the rugged terrain in Rio Rico, Ariz.

Ross D. Franklin ASSOCIATED PRESS

A top political appointee in the Obama Justice Department says he made a "mistake" when he didn't flag questionable tactics used by federal agents in a gun-trafficking case for his superiors last year.

Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, told NPR he found out in April 2010 that agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had let more than 400 guns connected to suspicious buyers cross the Southwest border during the Bush years, but he didn't tell senior leadership at the Justice Department.

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4:46am

Tue November 1, 2011
7 Billion And Counting

As Population, Consumption Rise, Builder Goes Small

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 12:33 pm

The world's population has just hit 7 billion people and continues to grow. Population experts are concerned about the rise in consumption that will accompany the increase in people. One California home builder, ZETA Communities, designs and builds small, highly energy-efficient homes.

Zeta Communities

The planet may not feel any different today, but there are now 7 billion people on it, according to the United Nations.

That number will continue to rise, of course, and global incomes are likely to rise as well. That means more cars and computers, and bigger homes: the kinds of things Americans take for granted. It's that rise in consumption that has population experts worried.

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4:46am

Tue November 1, 2011
Author Interviews

Sorrowful 'Blue Nights': Didion Mourns Her Daughter

Quintana Roo Dunne takes in the ocean view with her parents, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion in Malibu in 1976. Quintana Roo fell ill in 2003, and her father had a fatal heart attack several days later. Blue Nights is Didion's elegy for her daughter who died in 2005 at age 39.

John Bryson Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion wrestled with the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne. The book was published in 2005, months after their daughter Quintana Roo Dunne — their only child — died at age 39. In her new book, Blue Nights, the 76-year-old author has pieced together literary snapshots, retrieved memories and unanswered queries about her daughter's life and death.

"It has not left my mind since it happened," Didion says. "I live with it, so naturally I can talk about it. ... I couldn't talk about it at first, but I can now."

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4:00am

Tue November 1, 2011
Europe

Greek Referendum Could Jeopardize Bailout Deal

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou says he will ask the public to vote in a referendum on last week's European debt deal. His surprise announcement could throw a wrench into the bailout agreement. The bankers holding Greek debt agreed to accept losses on Greek bonds on the assumption that the country would carry out austerity measures. For the latest, Steve Inskeep talks with reporter Joanna Kakissis in Athens.

4:00am

Tue November 1, 2011
Business

MF Global A U.S. Casualty Of EU's Debt Crisis

MF Global, the securities firm run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, was forced to file for bankruptcy protection Monday. The company, at Corzine's urging, made big investments in European sovereign debt. Those bets turned out to be losers. Analysts don't believe MF Global is a harbinger of bad things to come. It was much more exposed to European debt than most U.S. financial companies. Zoe Chace reports for NPR's Planet Money.

4:00am

Tue November 1, 2011
Africa

Somali Militants Vow Payback For Kenya's Offensive

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 10:28 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Yet another foreign army has sent its troops into Somalia.

INSKEEP: Many years ago, American troops took positions there.

MONTAGNE: More recently, forces from neighboring Ethiopia, with U.S. backing, have moved against Islamist groups.

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6:35pm

Mon October 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Halloween Chicago-Style: 'Da Mayor And 'Da Zombies

Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 6:44 pm

The mayor's message: Have a safe Halloween, zombies included.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office

Set aside your doubts about zombies and ignore the signs of Photoshopping (like that reflection in the window of a guy with a baseball cap).

Here's a photo/illustration that begs for some creative caption suggestions (and ChicagoNow.com has just such a contest going).

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6:29pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Controversial Cholesterol Pill Vytorin Shows Promise For Kidney Patients

Originally published on Tue November 1, 2011 12:03 pm

Merck

Remember Grandpa Frank?

Way back in 2008, the ad above ran in heavy rotation on TV during the heyday of Vytorin, a cholesterol-lowering pill that claimed to fight both genetics and bad habits.

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5:40pm

Mon October 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Supreme Court Reinstates Conviction Of Grandmother In Shaken Baby Case

Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 7:05 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again rebuked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in California. This time, the court, by a 6-to-3 vote, reinstated the conviction of a California grandmother for shaking her baby grandson to death. The court's unsigned opinion, provoked a strong dissent from three of the justices, who accused the court majority of using a "tragic case" to "teach the Ninth Circut a lesson."

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5:36pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Music Reviews

Jeffrey Lewis: Cosmic And Tongue-In-Cheek 'Dream-Songs'

Originally published on Wed November 9, 2011 9:38 pm

Prolific singer-songwriter Jeffrey Lewis has a new album, called A Turn in the Dream-Songs.

Courtesy of Beggars Group

Jeffrey Lewis is my homeboy. The prolific anti-folk singer-songwriter has lived less than a mile from where I live on the Lower East Side since he was born in 1975. Difference is, I moved to Avenue B as an adult, while he's a native — his dad is a Brooklyn-born motorcycle mechanic who hung with local politicos and musicians.

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5:31pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Law

Supreme Court Hears Plea Bargain Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in two cases testing whether a lawyer's mishandling of a plea bargain offer should be sufficient reason for a defendant to get a second chance to accept the offer.

Both cases involve defendants who got prison terms much longer than they would have under plea bargains offered by the prosecutor. In one case, the defendant's lawyer never told his client about the offer. In the other, the defense lawyer advised against taking the offer based on a clearly erroneous understanding of state law.

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5:27pm

Mon October 31, 2011
The Two-Way

High Court Lets Stand Ruling Ordering Removal Of Crosses In Utah

Originally published on Wed November 2, 2011 8:40 am

The United States Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that ordered the removal of 12-foot high crosses placed along highways in Utah to commemorate state troopers killed in the line of duty.

The court acted without comment, but Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a 19-page dissent.

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5:18pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Monkey See

For Halloween, Please Enjoy This Story In Which NPH Freaks Out Ever So Gently

Delusion sold 25,000 tickets — at $40 a head — in less than a week. Creator Jon Braver hopes the attraction's success might be enough to launch a franchise.

Haunted Play

It's Halloween. Want to hear Neil Patrick Harris get freaked out?

Thought so. You'll want to click on that play button above, and check out Neda Ulaby's All Things Considered piece on an L.A. haunted house — more of an interactive play, really — called Delusion.

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5:12pm

Mon October 31, 2011
The Two-Way

Ghost Stories: FBI Releases Documents, Videos Of Russian Spy Operation

Originally published on Fri November 4, 2011 1:16 pm

Christopher Metsos in Queens, N.Y.

FBI

4:29pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Around the Nation

In L.A., Interactive Play Draws Scares

The buzz in Los Angeles for Halloween includes enthusiasm for the interactive play, called Delusion. In the words of the blurb, "This inclusive scare-down has audiences as participants in an interactive play by creator and professional stuntman Jon Braver, who uses his Hollywood background to pack punches in a twisted story of a mad asylum genius gone bad."

4:16pm

Mon October 31, 2011
Politics

Facing Stiffened Opposition, Obama Goes It Alone

Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 8:30 pm

President Obama signed an executive order Monday directing the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages. The order is one of several similar actions the president has taken in recent weeks.

Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama, faced with what he described as an "increasingly dysfunctional" Congress, has turned repeatedly in recent weeks to the time-honored, but often controversial executive order to unilaterally make policy.

On Monday, Obama signed an executive order designed to require drug companies to report anticipated manufacturing shortages in advance. Last week, he said he would issue an executive order designed to help ease home-refinancing rules. And earlier in the same week, the president issued a directive to cap student loan payments.

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