NPR News

Europe
5:05 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Local London Elections Could Cast A Big Shadow

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 9:12 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Politics
4:51 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Plenty Of Gingrich Campaign Memorabilia Left Over

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:31 am

Newt Gingrich officially pulled out of the Republican presidential race Wednesday. So what happens to the leftover T-shirts and campaign buttons?

Afghanistan
4:51 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Afghans Fear Their Country Will Fall Back Into War

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Our own Renee Montagne is in Afghanistan at a moment when its relationship with the United States is turning a corner. And for the next couple of weeks, Renee is going to be bringing us a range of voices and also opinions about what lies ahead. Renee joins us now from Kabul.

Renee, good morning.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Morning, David.

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Remembrances
4:42 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Seau's Death Being Investigated As A Suicide

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:31 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The sports world is mourning the death of a great football player, and by many accounts a great man. Junior Seau was only 43 years old when he died yesterday of a gunshot wound to the chest. Police in Oceanside, California, where Seau lived, and died, say they're investigating the death as a suicide.

Junior Seau played in the NFL for 20 years - 13 of them for the San Diego Chargers. He established himself as one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. Joining me now is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

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Around the Nation
4:12 am
Thu May 3, 2012

States Looking To Make Some Taxes Less Inevitable

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin proposed slashing state income tax rates this year and eventually phasing out the tax.
Sue Ogrocki AP

North Dakota may be about to go where no state has gone before. On June 12, voters will decide the fate of a ballot measure that would eliminate all property taxes in the state.

"We think it's a horse race," says Bob Harms, spokesman for a coalition of business, local government and farm groups that are opposed to the measure. "It has a real possibility of passing."

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Asia
4:05 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Activists Changes His Mind About Staying In China

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 9:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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Asia
4:05 am
Thu May 3, 2012

U.S. Tries To Clarify What Chinese Activist Wants

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:31 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's talk about this more with NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen. She's traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She's in Beijing. And Michele, how did this seem to go so wrong so quickly?

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News
1:41 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Trayvon Martin Case 2.0: Digital Trial Before Jury

People hold signs during a small April rally in Sanford, Fla., that was billed as an opportunity to show support for the constitutional rights of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 11:33 am

If the parents of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin can use social media and the Internet to demand justice, so, too, can the boy's killer.

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It's All Politics
1:06 am
Thu May 3, 2012

That New Friend You Made On Facebook? He Might Be Named Mitt Or Barack

An image from the Republican National Committee's Facebook page advertises its new "Social Victory Center" app.
RNC via Facebook.com

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:31 am

As the presidential campaigns refocus on November, they're zeroing in on digital domains. In fact, the Obama campaign has spent six times as much money advertising online as it has on TV so far, though that's certain to change.

And Republicans are fighting back with a new Facebook app called the "Social Victory Center." (You have to be a Facebook user to access the site.)

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Presidential Race
1:05 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Gingrich Out Of The Race, But Still In Debt

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pauses while announcing that he is suspending his presidential campaign Wednesday in Arlington, Va.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 9:42 am

Newt Gingrich is officially out of the presidential race. The former House speaker said Wednesday that he's suspending his campaign, and he's ready to help the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, battle President Obama. But Gingrich might have a more pressing problem: His campaign has about $4 million in debt.

In Gingrich's exit speech, he opened by thanking people — first his family, then his financial backers.

"I also want to single out, first of all, the over 179,000 donors who helped us at Newt.org and who helped make the campaign possible," he said.

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Humans
1:04 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Put Away The Bell Curve: Most Of Us Aren't 'Average'

Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's record for career home runs as he hits No. 715 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on April 8, 1974, on his way to a career 755 home runs. Research suggests that in a wide variety of professions, including collegiate and professional sports, a small but significant number of individuals perform exceedingly well and the rest of individuals' performance trails off.
AP

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 9:06 pm

For decades, teachers, managers and parents have assumed that the performance of students and employees fits what's known as the bell curve — in most activities, we expect a few people to be very good, a few people to be very bad and most people to be average.

The bell curve powerfully shapes how we think of human performance: If lots of students or employees happen to show up as extreme outliers — they're either very good or very bad — we assume they must represent a skewed sample, because only a few people in a truly random sample are supposed to be outliers.

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It's All Politics
5:57 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Could Electoral College Calculus Give Obama An Edge?

AP

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 6:27 pm

Now that President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are pivoting to the general election, campaign watchers are handicapping the race that counts this fall — the Electoral College.

And right now, the Electoral College map is looking better for the president than the (generally very close) national polls, says NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving.

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World Cafe
5:44 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Birdy On World Cafe

Birdy is a 15-year-old singer from the U.K.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 8:17 am

British artist Jasmine van den Bogaerde — better known as Birdy — is probably best known for her 2011 cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." The 15-year-old started playing piano at 5, began composing a few years later and won the Open Mic UK competition in 2008 at the age of 12. The win guaranteed the young artist a recording contract, but before releasing her debut, she'd already scored a spot on the U.K. pop chart with her cover of "Skinny Love," making Birdy a household name in the U.K.

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The Two-Way
5:27 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

'Zombie' Ants And The Fungus That Saves Them

A zombie ant with the brain-manipulating fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis s.l.) having been castrated by an hyperparasite fungus (white with yellow material).
David Hughes Penn State University

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 5:59 pm

As you can probably tell, at least one person on this blog's masthead likes ants.

So we've always been bummed that we haven't had the opportunity to tell you about zombie ants, but today we are glad to report there is a new development in the field. Luckily, it's a good-news report about a fungus that limits the fungus that turns ants into zombies.

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Law
4:26 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Key Clemens Witness Leaves Prosecutors Scrambling

Andy Pettitte leaves the courthouse after testifying Wednesday in the perjury and obstruction trial of former teammate Roger Clemens in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

The prosecution at the perjury trial of baseball great Roger Clemens suffered another major setback Wednesday. One of its key witnesses, pitcher Andy Pettitte, conceded that he may have misunderstood his former teammate as saying he used human growth hormone (HGH).

Clemens is charged with lying to Congress when he testified before a House committee that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs.

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The Two-Way
4:12 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

News Corp Board Gives Murdoch Its Vote Of Confidence

Rupert Murdoch, shown above with his son James (left) last July.
Sang Tan AP

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 4:16 pm

A little more than a day after a committee of British parliamentarians said Rupert Murdoch was "not a fit person" to lead a major international company, the board of News Corp. said they still backed Murdoch's leadership.

NPR's David Folkenflik reports that the board issued the statement of suport unanimously.

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Education
3:41 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Cal State Faculty On Strike Amid A 'Scary Future'

California Faculty Association Vice President Douglas Domingo-Foraste (right) helps Cal State, Long Beach, professor Mark Sugars vote last month on whether to authorize a strike. The strike was authorized Wednesday.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

California State University, the nation's largest four-year, public university system, is in trouble. Wednesday, professors authorized a strike over working conditions and pay, and students began a hunger strike demanding a tuition freeze.

The faculty authorization allows for two-day strikes at each of the schools in system, one after the other. A strike date is pending, though, and will only take place if negotiations fail.

This unfolding crisis is the result of massive state cuts in funding that have pushed higher education in California to the breaking point.

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All Tech Considered
3:15 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Explosion In Free Online Classes May Change Course Of Higher Education

It's become much cheaper and easier to offer classes online.
Matjaz Boncina iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up in a $60 million venture to provide classes online for free. The move is the latest by top universities to expand their intellectual reach through the Internet — a trend that is changing higher education.

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Latin America
3:13 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Cuba's New Mantra: Viva Private Business

Two self-employed florists prepare bunches of flowers in Havana last year. The Cuban government is stepping up economic reforms and estimates that in four or five years, nearly half the workforce will be employed in the private sector.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 4:26 pm

Socialism has been Cuba's official economic policy for more than a half-century, and some 85 percent of the Cuban workforce is employed by the state.

But that is changing fast. Communist authorities say that nearly half of Cuba's economic activity will shift to the private or "non-state" sector in the next four or five years.

Those plans signal a new urgency to Cuban President Raul Castro's economic reforms, and one reason is that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the island's biggest benefactor, is battling cancer and facing re-election in October.

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Election 2012
3:12 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Before Recall, Wis. Dems Must Choose Walker's Rival

A new poll shows Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett leading among Democrats vying to challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election in June. The Democratic primary is Tuesday.
Dinesh Ramde AP

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 3:33 pm

The political civil war that has gripped Wisconsin since Republican Gov. Scott Walker's 2010 election will intensify next week when Democrats pick a candidate to post up against the governor in a historic recall election in June.

Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary has developed into a two-person race between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in the GOP landslide of 2010, and former County Executive Kathleen Falk, the favorite of the state's public employee unions.

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Middle East
2:40 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

A Syrian Graffiti Artist, Defiant Until Death

Zahra was an anti-government activist and graffiti artist in Syria. He and his friends spray-painted slogans against President Bashar Assad around the suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital.
Courtesy of friends of Nour Hatem Zahra

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 8:44 am

They called him "the spray man" for his graffiti that appeared all over the Syrian capital of Damascus. But in truth, 23-year-old Nour Hatem Zahra was an activist like any other activist.

He started protesting in Syria last spring. Back then, the opposition thought it would only take a few months to get rid of President Bashar Assad, as it had in Tunisia and Egypt.

Then Syrian forces started killing protesters, detaining them, torturing them. And the people started fighting back.

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Europe
2:21 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

In Greek Election Campaign, Anger Trumps Civility

Communist Party of Greece lawmaker Liana Kanelli enters her car after protesters threw yogurt at her as she tried to reach the Greek Parliament on June 29, during a 48-hour general strike in Athens. Such attacks are not uncommon in Greece, where ordinary Greeks' anger over the debt crisis and austerity measures is boiliing over.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 4:26 pm

Greeks will vote Sunday in what is expected to be the most fractious parliamentary election in decades.

People are so divided that no party is expected to get enough votes to form a government. Voters blame politicians for bankrupting the country and then selling it out to international lenders, who forced the government to impose painful austerity measures in exchange for billions of euros in bailout loans.

This election is an early one; the economic crisis forced out the previous elected government led by George Papandreou.

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Law
2:15 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

13 People Charged In Florida A&M Hazing Death

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 4:26 pm

Prosecutors have filed charges against 13 people allegedly involved in the hazing death of Florida A&M University student Robert Champion, authorities said on Wednesday.

The Salt
2:14 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Lard Is Back In The Larder, But Hold The Health Claims

Could you taste the lard in a freshly-baked crust?
Steven Depolo Flickr.com

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 2:15 pm

What secret ingredient makes the pie crust so crisp and flaky? If you're from the Midwest, you may have guessed: Lard. The pig fat reviled for decades as supremely unhealthy is undergoing a lipid rehabilitation by American chefs and home bakers.

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Presidential Race
2:03 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Gingrich Officially Out Of GOP Race

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 4:26 pm

Newt Gingrich made it official on Wednesday — he's suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Two-Way
1:42 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

It's Official: Newt Gingrich Bows Out

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 2:31 pm

Saying "I never could have predicted either the low points or the high points," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich just officially suspended his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

He's been leading up to this for more than a week. Tuesday, he posted a video to say goodbye to his supporters.

Update at 4:30 p.m. ET. Romney On Gingrich:

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Newt Gingrich
1:40 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Gingrich Formally Ends Campaign, 'A Truly Wild Ride'

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announces he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on May 2 in Arlington, Va.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:06 am

What to say about Newt Gingrich that Newt Gingrich hasn't already said about Newt Gingrich?

Employing his admittedly "grandiose" ideas, Gingrich said all that he could to will his candidacy for president past low expectations. He arguably did, managing to resurrect his political career (at least temporarily), help focus the zeitgeist of conservative voters and even briefly wear the mantle of front-runner.

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The Two-Way
1:35 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Former NFL Player Junior Seau Is Dead; Possible Suicide

Junior Seau in 2009, when he played with the New England Patriots.
Elsa Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 2:36 pm

San Diego's Union Tribune reports that former NFL linebacker Junior Seau "has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his beachfront home."

It adds that:

"Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said he was notified of the death and is on his way to be with family members."

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Shots - Health Blog
1:14 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

A Step Forward For Gene Therapy To Treat HIV

HIV particles assemble at the surface of a white blood cell called a macrophage.
PLoS Biology

Millions of people around the world are living with HIV, thanks to drug regimens that suppress the virus. Now there's a new push to eliminate HIV from patients' bodies altogether. That would be a true cure.

We're not there yet. But a report in Science Translational Medicine is an encouraging signpost that scientists may be headed in the right direction.

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