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Back from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, the 182nd Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard had to make a pit stop before heading home. At Camp Atterbury in Indiana, the service members were far from their families, most of which are in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The returning soldiers had to go through a series of checkups and assessments before their welcome-home ceremony, which marks the moment they return to civilian life and the people they left behind.

Before they got there, there was anxiety on both sides — for soldiers and their families.

Following a vote this week in the state Senate, it's all but certain that Connecticut will become the next state to abolish the death penalty. But residents are divided over what a repeal will mean for those currently on death row.

State Sen. Edward Meyer stressed that the bill — which makes life in prison without parole the maximum sentence — was not retroactive.

"It doesn't affect the 11 inmates that are on death row right now," he said.

Across the country, more than 7,700 daily temperature records were broken last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record.

While it might be time to lie on a blanket in the park, climate scientists are worried. They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event, one with local and global implications.

In Iowa, March was so hot — a record-breaking 84 degrees — that some crops there, like oats, are now running way ahead of schedule.

If it's not already marked on your calendar, here's your warning: Today is International Pillow Fight Day. Cities around the world are taking the holiday seriously — as serious as a pillow fight can be, anyway.

An iPhone and iPad were worth more to a Chinese teenager than his kidney, according to a report Friday from China's Xinhua news agency. Now five people in southern China face charges of illegal organ trading.



A weaker than expected jobs report is a setback for President Obama as the election nears. The president says that while private employers have added some four million jobs over the last two years, economic security remains elusive. The president spoke yesterday at a White House conference on women in the economy, and as NPR's Scott Horsley reports, voters who are women may be the key to the president's political future.

Congressional Races, Strategies Take Shape

Apr 7, 2012



The race for the Republican presidential nomination has hit a lull. The next group of primaries isn't for more than two weeks, so it might be a good time to look around at another campaign for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. After all, they control the federal budget. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute devotes his attention to Congress year round, and he joins us from their studios. Thanks very much for being with us, Norm.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN: Oh, my pleasure.



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon.

This week, U.S. Marines landed in northern Australia. Just a couple hundred Marines, but they are the first wave of a deployment that will eventually increase to 2,500.

The Chinese military has expressed disapproval. Last fall, an official with the Chinese Defense Ministry said the U.S. military build-up in the region reflected a Cold War mentality.

We're joined now from Canberra, by the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich.

Just when it seemed to be gaining steam, the U.S. job market pretty much stalled in March. Employers added a net 120,000 jobs during the month, defying the higher expectations of a lot of economists. And though the unemployment rate fell, it did so for the wrong reasons.

Over the past few months, the economy has been adding jobs at a good, if not spectacular, pace, and all the signs suggested that trend had continued through March. As it happened, jobs increased at a rate that barely keeps up with population growth.





This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

The bounty scandal of the National Football League got even worse this week. A documentary filmmaker released audio of New Orleans Saint's former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams giving a locker room speech to his players before a game against the San Francisco 49ers and commanding them to inflict specific disabling injuries on their opponents, including running back Frank Gore.

With the possibility that women voters might prove decisive in November's presidential election, each major party is obviously looking for opportunities to argue why its policies are better for women and the opposition's worse. The latest came Friday with the release of the March jobless figures.

The report was a surprise on the downside because the economy added far fewer jobs for the month — 121,000 — than economists had forecast even as the jobless rate declined a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 percent.

Bill Gates is of course better known as the co-founder of Microsoft. But his foundation, The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributes to NPR, is known for pouring millions into education reform.

Gates made a splash back in February when he came out against making Teacher Data Reports — or evaluations — public in New York City. Los Angeles Public Schools released similar data.

Part 4 of four

Some weeks ago, I paid a visit to an eggshell-blue house in Newtown, a neighborhood on the west side of Sydney, to Wendy Bacon and her husband, Chris Nash.

As we sat on the porch of their book-lined home, they pointed with pride to the Australasian trees and blooms defining their interior courtyard.

And then Bacon delved into her own harvest: the results of a case study about how the country's newspapers handled a pressing and contentious issue.

The Republican presidential primaries may not officially be over, but political ads on both sides have moved on to the general election.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned people about the many dangers of buying medications from foreign pharmacies over the Internet. While some sites might offer high-quality medicines, there are plenty that sell bogus and potentially dangerous products.

Current TV has filed a countersuit against its former lead anchor Keith Olbermann. As we reported, Current fired Olbermann last week. Olbermann, who also abruptly left MSNBC, went on the offensive, bad-mouthing his former employeer on Letterman and eventually filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination yesterday.

A California grandmother convicted of shaking her 7-week-old grandson to death will not return to jail, because Gov. Jerry Brown has commuted her sentence.

Police departments have come under increased scrutiny from the Obama administration as the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division steps up investigations of corruption, bias and excessive force.

Some of the targeted law enforcement agencies have had ethical clouds hanging over them for years — the New Orleans Police Department being the prime example — but others, like the Seattle Police Department, aren't exactly usual suspects.

In presidential nominating contests, the delegate count really matters — right up until the moment where it doesn't.

Unfortunately for Rick Santorum, that moment seems ever more imminent in this spring's Republican presidential race.

Mitt Romney's overwhelming wins this week in three states (including Wisconsin, where Santorum not too long ago had been leading in the polls) seem to have reconfirmed the sense that he has cleared all the major hurdles, and the rest is mere formality.

In one Alaskan fishing village, crime is a laughing matter. It's not the crimes that have residents chuckling so much as how they're written about. The Unalaska crime report is full of eagle aggression and intimate encounters gone awry in the Aleutian Islands.

When Sgt. Jennifer Shockley heads out on patrol each day, she's got the police blotter on her mind. Her goal is to paint a detailed picture of the town's often ridiculous crimes.

The Motion Picture Association of America and The Weinstein Co. have finally come to an agreement: After editing some profanities, the MPAA walked back its R-rating and Bully, a documentary about school bullying, will be released on April 13 with a PG-13 rating.

Hungary's new anti-vagrancy laws — the toughest in Europe — now mean that homeless people sleeping on the street can face police fines or even the possibility of jail time.

Advocacy and human-rights groups are alarmed by the new efforts to crack down on and effectively criminalize homelessness, where the ranks of the needy have increased during the country's dire financial crisis.

Debt, joblessness and poverty are on the rise. The country's bonds have been downgraded to "junk" status, and the nation's currency, the forint, has dropped sharply against the euro.

Spring means cherry, pear and apple blossoms. But in many metropolitan areas, urban foresters ensure those flowering fruit trees don't bear fruit to keep fallen fruit from being trampled into slippery sidewalk jelly.

But a group of fruit fans in the San Francisco Bay Area is secretly grafting fruit-bearing tree limbs onto those fruitless trees.

For people with dyslexia, problems recognizing words can make life difficult. Children usually aren't diagnosed until elementary school, when it becomes clear they're struggling with reading. But scientists say it could be possible to diagnose and help kids much earlier by identifying problems with visual attention — long before they learn to read.

A Navy fighter jet crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach on Friday afternoon. Television images showed thick, black smoke billowing near a row of apartment buildings.

Update at 8:24 a.m. ET April 7. No Fatalities, Officials Confirm

Fire officials say they have accounted for everyone who lived at an apartment complex in Virginia where a Navy fighter jet crashed on Friday.

Opinion about the Trayvon Martin shooting is sharply divided by race, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds.

The divide is clear, when pollsters asked if George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed the black, unarmed teenager, was guilty of a crime.

A little more than half of the African Americans polled said he was "definitely guilty," while only 15 percent of non-blacks shared the same opinion.

The poll also found:

March Jobs Report Offers Mixed Messages

Apr 6, 2012



Deal Might Be The Key To Save Detroit

Apr 6, 2012

The city's leaders agreed to a compromise with state officials this week, that may save Detroit from bankruptcy. But Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley tells host Michel Martin that a lot more work needs to be done to save the struggling city. They're also joined by NPR Senior Business Editor Marilyn Geewax.