NPR News

The Two-Way
4:52 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Federal Judge Declares Death Penalty Unconstitutional In California

California's death row at San Quentin State Prison is crowded, but the execution chamber has been idle since 2006
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 11:22 am

A federal judge has ruled that California's use of the death penalty is dysfunctional and violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney's ruling came in response to an appeal by Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to death in Los Angeles in 1995 for the rape and killing of his girlfriend's mother three years earlier.

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The Salt
4:07 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

This Dirty Little Weed May Have Cleaned Up Ancient Teeth

This young male, buried at a prehistoric site in Central Sudan, probably munched on the roots of a plant called purple nutsedge.
Donatella Usai Centro Studi Sudanesi and Sub-Sahariani

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 3:35 pm

The menus of millennia past can be tough to crack, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. For archaeologists studying a prehistoric site in Sudan, dental plaque provided a hint.

"When you eat, you get this kind of film of dental plaque over your teeth," says Karen Hardy, an archaeologist with the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

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The Two-Way
3:40 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

U.S. Sanctions Major Russian Banks And Energy Companies

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk visits forces stationed near the small city of Izyum on Wednesday.
Sergey Bobok AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 6:18 am

President Obama outlined a new package of sanctions against Russian firms and individuals on Wednesday.

"These sanctions are significant but also targeted," Obama said. "Russia will see that its actions in Ukraine have consequences."

The administration targeted large banks, as well as energy and defense firms. The sanctions stopped short of covering entire sectors of the Russian economy.

Obama said they were designed to inflict pain on Russia without harming U.S. companies or the nation's allies.

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The Two-Way
2:54 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Militias Clash At Libyan Airport For Fourth Day

Flames and smoke billow from an airplane at the Tripoli international airport on Wednesday, the fourth day of fighting there
MAHMUD TURKIA AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 8:08 pm

The control tower and 20 aircraft have been damaged by shelling at Libya's main airport in Tripoli as fighting continued there for a fourth day.

"It's a disaster for the country at large," says Dirk Vandewalle, an expert on Libya at Dartmouth College.

Since the revolution that deposed longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, the central government has relied on — and financially supported — militias to help fill the power vacuum.

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All Tech Considered
2:45 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Visa Makes Big Move To Boost Consumer Spending Online

Visa Checkout will store customers' credit card numbers and billing addresses once without their having to re-enter the information each time they shop online.
Visa

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 9:28 am

Here's an experience many of us have had: You're shopping on your smartphone. You click on the shoes or books you want. But then, when you get to the shopping cart, you abandon ship.

Visa says that's a big problem for retailers. On Wednesday, the credit card company announced it's rolling out a brand new system designed to get us to spend more money online.

One Password, Many Tokens

Visa is actually trying to fix two problems with one swipe.

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Shots - Health News
2:19 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Patients With Low-Cost Insurance Struggle To Find Specialists

Dr. Charu Sawhney examines patient Mang Caan. Sawhney supports the Affordable Care Act, but has been frustrated by how difficult it is to find specialists who accept some of the plans her patients bought.
Carrie Feibel for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:02 pm

The Hope Clinic in southwest Houston is in the very heart of Asia Town, a part of the city where bland strip malls hide culinary treasures — Vietnamese pho, Malaysian noodles, Sichuan rabbit and bubble tea.

Inside the clinic, internist Charu Sawhney sees patients from many countries and circumstances. She's a big believer in the Affordable Care Act since most of her patients have been uninsured. She actively pushed many of them to sign up for the new plans.

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Middle East
2:19 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

The Devastation On The Ground In Gaza City

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:02 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Middle East
2:19 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

On Two Sides, Two Funerals — While Death Toll Mounts In Gaza

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:02 pm

As the violence between Hamas and Israel continues, so too do the funerals that come in its wake. NPR correspondents Ari Shapiro and Emily Harris attended two such funerals today, in Tel Aviv and Gaza respectively, and they tell of what they learned there.

Law
2:19 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

With A Rules Change For A Lever, Senate Ends Judge's 17-Year Wait

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 11:00 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A Missouri lawyer won Senate confirmation today as a federal judge. That came 17 years after he was first nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton. Ronnie White's nomination in the 1990s triggered a fight between civil rights groups and some police groups. But as NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, a change in Senate rules helped him advance this time.

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Politics
2:19 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Miss. Primary Saga Rolls On, As McDaniel Refuses To Back Down

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:02 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Mississippi's Republican Senate runoff was decided three weeks ago, but the loser in that race refuses to accept the results. Longtime Sen. Thad Cochran is the certified winner, but his tea party-backed challenger, Chris McDaniel, alleges there might have been thousands of improper votes cast and today another twist. NPR political editor Charlie Mahtesian joins us now to talk about that twist. And Charlie, State Sen. Chris McDonnell's campaign held a much anticipated press conference today. But what actually happened?

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Law
2:19 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

With New Virtual Currency Rules, N.Y. Regulators Tread A Fine Line

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 5:31 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Banking regulators in New York State are expected to release new rules this week governing Bitcoins and other virtual currencies. From member station WSHU Charles Lane reports that many industry experts welcome the regulations but some worry that they could end up limiting the creative potential of this new way of doing business.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: In many ways virtual currencies are just like old-fashioned money. You can buy furniture, books, beer, whatever. But some say it's even better than money.

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NPR Story
1:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Company Experiments With 3D-Printed Car

Local Motors engineer James Earl prepares to test drive the company's 3D printed vehicle prototype. (Carrie Jung/KJZZ)

3D printers are capable of producing a variety of consumer products, from children’s toys to prosthetic limbs. Now, a company in the Phoenix area is trying to take the technology to the next level with cars. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Carrie Jung of KJZZ reports.

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NPR Story
1:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Deborah Harkness Brings Her 'All Souls' Trilogy To A Close

Author Deborah Harkness has just released "The Book of Life," the final book in her bestselling "All Souls" trilogy. (Marion Ettlinger)

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:39 am

In 2011, University of Southern California history professor Deborah Harkness introduced readers to professor and reluctant witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont in “A Discovery of Witches.”

It was the first in what has come to be called her “All Souls Trilogy.”

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NPR Story
1:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

District Profile: Environmental Issues Come To A Head In Coal Country

In West Virginia's third congressional district, Republican state senator Evan Jenkins, right, will try to unseat Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall. (U.S. House of Representatives / West Virginia Legislature)

As President Obama announces new actions on climate change, a tight congressional race in southern West Virginia coal country is bringing environmental issues to the forefront.

In West Virginia’s third congressional district, Evan Jenkins, a Republican state senator, will try to unseat Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall, who’s been in office since 1977.

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Parallels
1:06 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Syria's Army On The Verge Of Retaking The Country's Largest City

A Syrian man carries a girl on a street covered with dust following a government airstrike in Aleppo on Tuesday. Rebels took the eastern half of the city in 2012 but are now in danger of being forced out by President Bashar Assad's troops.
Baraa Al-Halabi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:02 pm

When Syria's rebels were on the offensive in 2012, they captured the eastern half of Aleppo and the surrounding countryside. But now President Bashar Assad's troops are poised to retake all of the city that is the largest in Syria and served as the prewar financial capital.

A new military campaign is heating up as Assad, who assumed power when his father, Hafez Assad, died in 2000, was sworn in Wednesday for his third term as president. A rebel defeat could be a crushing blow to what is left of the country's three-year rebellion against the Syrian regime.

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Politics
12:41 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Cory Booker Wants To Help Ex-Offenders Be Economically Productive

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. Michel Martin is away.

Cory Booker was in the political spotlight long before he was sworn in as New Jersey's junior senator in 2014. His first campaign to become mayor of Newark was the focus of an award-winning documentary. Part of his term in that office was chronicled in a television series for the Sundance Channel.

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World
12:41 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Arts Program Makes Israeli And Palestinian Youth Hopeful For Future

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

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The Two-Way
12:39 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Democratic Effort To Override Hobby Lobby Ruling Fails

GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire complained about a Democratic effort to reaffirm a contraceptive mandate at a Tuesday news conference
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 2:34 pm

A Democratic effort to override the Supreme Court's recent ruling on contraceptive coverage failed in the Senate on Wednesday.

Bill sponsors fell four votes short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the measure.

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Africa
12:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Nigeria's Boko Haram 'More Extreme Than Al-Qaida,' Journalist Says

This week, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai met with some of the girls who escaped Boko Haram's captivity. The Islamic extremist group gained attention in April when it kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in northeastern Nigeria. Many girls are still missing.
Olamikan Gbemiga AP

The Nigerian group Boko Haram is part of a new generation of Islamist extremists. It was founded in 2002, but received only limited, periodic attention until April when it kidnapped more than 200 girls after raiding a school in northeastern Nigeria and threatening to marry the girls off or sell them as slaves. Some girls escaped, but many are still missing.

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The Salt
12:13 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Not So Offal: Why Bone Soup, A 'Perfect Food,' Tastes So Meaty

Sup tulang, as this dish is called in Singapore, is Malay for "bone soup." The fattiness of the marrow rounds out the chili, tomato, fennel, cumin and ginger.
Konstantin Kakaes for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 12:43 pm

I ate the best meat I've ever eaten through a straw.

When the Singaporean food stall proprietor who'd just served me a plate of bones first offered the straw, I refused. I didn't want to take any shortcuts as I worked the tastiest bits of marrow out from the skeletal hollows.

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Music
11:55 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Every Composer Needs A Great Storyteller

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 9:39 am

The legendary German conductor Otto Klemperer was one of the most profound musicians of the 20th Century. In the 1960s, nearing the end of his career, he overcame many physical handicaps to create an astonishing body of recorded classical music. EMI has just reissued a broad spectrum of his recordings, including a box set of one of the composers he's most associated with: Gustav Mahler. Fresh Air classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz has a review of Mahler: Symphonies 2, 4, 7 & 9 / Das Lied von der Erde.

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It's All Politics
10:21 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Palin's Call For Impeachment Reopens Debate Over ... Sarah Palin

Former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin introduces U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel at a May 29 rally in Ellisville, Miss.
George Clark AP

It's nice to see Sarah Palin back in the news. Nice, that is, if you're a Sarah fan — or if you're a Democrat, or a member of the media.

Palin's fans, and they are legion on the right, love her reliably tough-talking take on how conservatives should fight President Obama and his use of executive power to circumvent Congress.

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The Two-Way
9:52 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Casino Boat Runs Aground Off Georgia Coast In Maiden Voyage

The Escapade grounded on a rocky bottom off the Georgia coast early Wednesday
U.S. Coast Guard

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 8:36 pm

This post was updated at 10:35 p.m. ET.

The Coast Guard has evacuated passengers from the Escapade, a casino boat that ran around off the Georgia coast after midnight on Wednesday. The boat remains lodged on a sandbar.

Passengers were shuttled to a Coast Guard cutter via small rubber zodiacs, according to the Savannah Morning News.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:51 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Neil Whosis? What You Don't Know About The 1969 Moon Landing

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 11:29 pm

Forty-five years ago, this week, 123 million of us watched Neil and Buzz step onto the moon. In 1969, we numbered about 200 million, so more than half of America was in the audience that day. Neil Armstrong instantly became a household name, an icon, a hero. And then — and this, I bet, you didn't know — just as quickly, he faded away.

"Whatever Happened to Neil Whosis?" asked the Chicago Tribune in 1974.

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The Two-Way
9:40 am
Wed July 16, 2014

A Huge New Crater Is Found In Siberia, And The Theories Fly

Aerial footage posted online shows a large crater in northern Siberia, in an area called "the end of the world."
YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:46 am

The area of Russia is said to be called, ominously enough, the end of the world. And that's where researchers are headed this week, to investigate a large crater whose appearance reportedly caught scientists by surprise. The crater is estimated at 262 feet wide and is in the northern Siberian area of Yamal.

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The Two-Way
8:43 am
Wed July 16, 2014

A Dozen People Killed As Typhoon Batters The Philippines

Residents wade through floods as they go back to their home while Typhoon Rammasun batters suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, on Wednesday
Aaron Favila AP

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:26 am

At least a dozen people were killed as the Philippines was battered by its first typhoon of the season on Wednesday. Since the storm passed through major population centers, officials were relieved that the death toll wasn't higher.

The storm, known as Rammasun but called Glenda locally, sideswiped Manila but knocked out power there and across Luzon, the most populous island of the archipelago.

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Goats and Soda
8:26 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Nepalis Treat This Peace Corps Volunteer Like Justin Bieber

Hannah Marqusee taught these Nepali 8th- and 9th-graders to play Ultimate Frisbee. "Despite being terrible at throwing, they had a really good time," she reports. Their verdict: slightly more fun than soccer but not quite as fun as cricket. Bottom row, fourth from the right, is her host brother, Sachin.
Courtesy of Hannah Marqusee

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 12:26 pm

Being a foreigner in Nepal sometimes gives you the illusion that you are a celebrity. Children follow you down the street, women you just met tell you they love you, and everyone wants to be your friend.

I've been living in Nepal for 10 months now as a Peace Corps volunteer. In Peace Corps years, this means I'm a baby. Even after all this time I'm still in the very early planning stages of projects that I hope will improve health, food security, gender equality and income in my community.

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Goats and Soda
8:05 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Death, Sex And A Glimmer Of Hope: Reporting On Ebola From Sierra Leone

Musa James died of Ebola on Monday. Staff from Doctors Without Borders prepare the body of the 70-year-old for burial.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 3:20 pm

NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, covering the Ebola outbreak that began in March in Guinea and has spread to neighboring countries. This morning, he talked with us about a controversial burial, the impact of the "no touching" recommendation — and a sign of hope.

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The Two-Way
7:40 am
Wed July 16, 2014

New Hampshire Says It Will Now Allow D.C. Residents To Buy Booze

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:28 am

Clearing up a technicality that had left visitors from Washington, D.C., unable to purchase alcohol in New Hampshire, the state's liquor board says it's now OK to accept D.C. licenses. Earlier this month, some Washington residents were told they couldn't buy alcohol because their IDs weren't from a state.

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The Two-Way
6:11 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Court Finds Netherlands Liable For 300 Deaths In Srebrenica Massacre

Women from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica embrace their lawyers following a ruling Wednesday at a civil court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Phil Nijhuis AP

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 8:24 am

A court in the Netherlands ruled today that the country's government was partly liable for the deaths of 300 Bosnian Muslims whom Dutch peacekeepers failed to protect in Srebrenica in 1995.

But The Associated Press notes that the court decision clears the government of liability in the deaths of the thousands of others who were killed in Srebrenica.

"Relatives of the dead welcomed the limited finding of liability, but lamented that it did not go much further," The AP added.

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