NPR News

Big-City Mayors Dig In To Food Policy

Jan 19, 2012

Food policy can sound like a dreary enterprise best left to Washington, D.C. But big-city mayors are starting to see local food policy as a key step in getting healthy, affordable food to their constituents.

This afternoon, the mayors of America are meeting in Washington, D.C., to launch their own food policy task force. The goal is to share information on projects that work, and also make sure that federal food policy doesn't muck up those local efforts.

Microsoft is under fire this week over a patent it was granted that's been dubbed the "avoid ghetto" feature for GPS devices.

Freestyle skiing pioneer Sarah Burke died this morning at the University of Utah Medical Center from injuries suffered nine days ago while practicing the sport she championed.

"Sarah passed away peacefully surrounded by those she loved," says a statement from the medical center. "In accordance with Sarah's wishes, her organs and tissues were donated to save the lives of others."

In South Carolina, The Cain Train Is Back

Jan 19, 2012

NPR's Arnie Seipel came upon something unexpected in Charleston, S.C. and he sent this picture of it:

Yep. The Cain Train is back in South Carolina and he's getting help from comedian Stephen Colbert, who as we've noted, announced his intention to run for President of South Carolina.

What do you do with a 1,000-foot wreck that's full of fuel and half-submerged on a rocky ledge in the middle of an Italian marine sanctuary? Remove it. Very carefully.

The wreck of the cruise liner Costa Concordia, which ran aground last week, is not unlike a car accident. The first order of business is determining whether it's worth repairing or it gets junked. Then there are the questions of how best to go about it – and who pays.

President Obama's campaign on Thursday released its first TV ad of the 2012 election cycle, and it's a defense of his record on energy.

Remember that movie Sarah's Key? Did you miss it? It was last year's highest grossing foreign-language film, but it made less than eight million dollars. The fact is that selling foreign language films to U.S. audiences is a notorious challenge. Nevertheless, Fox, one of the world's most powerful media conglomerates, is beefing up its investment in foreign films.

In Asia's modern history, college students have played a leading role in pushing for political reform and challenging authoritarian regimes.

Adam Adli is one of these student activists, and is becoming a prominent political figure as he fights to abolish a 40-year-old law that bars college students in the prosperous Southeast Asian country from participating in politics.

The 22-year-old was among the crowd of thousands chanting "reformasi," or reform, outside Malaysia's high court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Jan. 9.

If there's ever been a presidential debate with as much news happening in the hours leading up to the event, it's hard to remember when.

Johnny Otis was many things over his career, including a bandleader, producer, radio and TV host and composer. Additionally, Otis launched the careers of many of R&B's finest singers. Otis died on Tuesday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 90 years old.

If it seemed like 2011 was a big year for laws restricting abortion, it was.

In fact, according to "Who Decides? The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights In the U.S.," the 21stannual report compiled by the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, the 69 laws enacted restricting a woman's reproductive rights were just one short of the record set in 1999.

In Egypt's recent parliamentary elections, the first since Hosni Mubarak's ouster and the fairest in the country's history, Islamists won big.

And one group suffered a shocking disappointment — women.

Although the final numbers haven't been announced, it appears there will be only about eight women out of the 508 seats — or fewer than 2 percent.

Apple announced it is getting into the electronic textbook business. The tech company is releasing new tools that make it easier for publishers to create new, interactive textbooks designed to be used on Apple's iPad.

Extending the political crisis that has churned up a media frenzy and put the nation on edge, Pakistan's Supreme Court has given the Prime Minister ten more days to answer contempt of court charges

Prime Minister Yusef Reza Gilani drove himself to the imposing Supreme Court building framed by stormy skies this morning. Facing contempt charges, he stood in the well of the packed court and defended his refusal to re-open a graft case against his boss, President Zardari.

A woman who was seen dining with the captain of the Costa Concordia the night the luxury liner crashed off the Italian coast is defending him. The AP reports that the woman, whom Italian authorities want to interview, is Dominican Cermotan, a 25-year-old Moldovan, who worked for Costa as a hostess but was not on duty the day of the incident.

"He did a great thing, he saved over 3,000 lives," Cermotan told Moldova's Jurnal TV, according to the AP.

Any cook who has had to make do with very little knows there's a sort of pride in whipping up a tasty meal from a bare pantry.

The timekeepers at the International Telecommunication Union's Radiocommunication Assembly, who were supposed to decide this week whether to keep or eliminate the leap second, have decided to take some more time to decide.

Three years, apparently, the BBC reports.

The experts, it says, "were unable to reach a consensus, so moved the matter to a meeting in 2015."

Washington, which over the past few days has gotten an unusual amount of snow, is getting another round of unexpected weather. Here's the Seattle PI's lede this morning:

"First snow, now ice."

And the ice, which coated the roads, trees, and power lines is continuing the havoc that the snow brought.

A rare four-volume set — John James Audubon's Birds of America — stands a good chance of becoming the most expensive such books ever auctioned on Friday.

Elmore Leonard has had the kind of writing career many aspiring writers dream of. Over six decades, he's written scores of successful crime novels, short stories and scripts for the big and small screens.

The acclaimed TV series on FX, Justified, is based on one of Leonard's short stories, "Fire in the Hole." The show has garnered awards for its gritty yet likeable characters.

Transcript

JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the Republican presidential race Thursday, saying he saw no way forward. The same day, the Iowa Republican party announced that Mitt Romney is no longer the winner of the caucuses there.

For 51 seasons, the Washington, D.C.-based TV quiz show It's Academic has pitted three teams of high school students against each other in a sports game atmosphere — complete with chants and cheerleaders.

The show first aired in the Washington area in 1961 and spurred similar programs in several other cities. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Senator Charles Schumer and political commentator George Stephanopoulos have all appeared on versions of the show.

When faced with a major medical decision, it can be difficult for patients to determine when it's appropriate to seek a second opinion. Asking another doctor can help catch misdiagnoses or prevent unnecessary treatments, but they can also be a waste of time and resources.

The images are blurred by steam and obscured by radiation. But they are the first look we've gotten inside Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor that was crippled by a tsunami last year.

Who Exactly Is 'The Real Romney'?

Jan 19, 2012

In a new biography, two longtime Boston Globe reporters write about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a complicated man who also "loves dichotomies ... strong versus weak, stagnation versus prosperity, leadership versus drift."

On their hunt for The Real Romney, Scott Helman and Michael Kranish traced Romney's life from his childhood in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., to his career at private equity firm Bain Capital, and then to his work in politics — first as the governor of Massachusetts and then as a presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012.

Kathleen Edwards is a singer-songwriter from Canada who just released her fourth album, Voyageur. There's a lot of heartache and self-doubt on the record, and that makes sense — much of it was written around the time of Edwards' divorce from her husband and musical collaborator. The song "Pink Champagne" would seem to be a case in point: It takes place at a wedding where a young bride is second-guessing her decision. But Edwards says the message of that song isn't quite so literal.

For decades, until 2010, someone appeared at Edgar Allan Poe's grave site in Baltimore before dawn on Jan. 19 — his birthday.

The mysterious visitor, who was never identified, would leave behind three roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac as a tribute to the man who wrote The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher and other classic poems and tales.

Last night, there was no visit.

If you're bugged by cost problems you find in health care, you can draw attention to them (and blow off a little steam) by writing about them. And if you're really lucky your work might help change things.

Who knows? You might even make a little cash. Essays from four people just won them $1,000 each in the second annual Costs of Care contest.

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