NPR News

Law
1:39 am
Wed August 15, 2012

The Law — And Reality — Of Gun Access

Federal law bars gun sales to the mentally ill only if they've ever been deemed by a judge to be mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed. States reporting of such things to the federal database is spotty, and very often, it doesn't show up when a gun seller does a background check.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 4:44 am

Timothy Courtois' family had been worried about him for weeks. They repeatedly told police in Biddeford, Maine, that the 49-year-old was off his meds for bipolar disorder. And police were also told he had guns. But still, because he wasn't doing anything that rose to the legal definition of imminent threat, police said their hands were tied.

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National Security
1:38 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Taliban Showing New Willingness On Prisoner Swap

This image provided by IntelCenter on Dec. 8, 2010, shows a frame grab from a video released by the Taliban containing footage of a man believed to be Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The 26-year-old Army sergeant was captured by the Taliban more than three years ago.
AP

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 3:14 am

There are new glimmers of hope for the only known U.S. prisoner of war held captive in Afghanistan — 26-year-old Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban more than three years ago. After lengthy discussions, it appears his captors may be more receptive than ever before to finding a way to send him home.

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Around the Nation
1:34 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Young Illegal Immigrants Seek To Avoid Deportation

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 6:21 am

Young people brought to the U.S. illegally began applying for a deportation deferral and a two-year work permit on Wednesday. It's the boldest immigration program yet by the Obama administration — putting into effect elements of the so-called DREAM Act even though it has not passed Congress.

Lizbeth Mateo has high school and college diplomas from California and evidence that she has been in the country continuously for at least five years. What she wants now is assurance that she won't be deported.

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Humans
12:51 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Changing Climate May Have Led To Earliest Mummies

A photo from a recent National Geographic story shows a long-buried corpse, preserved by one of Earth's driest climates, Chile's Atacama Desert, where it has retained centuries-old skin, hair and clothing.
Enrico Ferorelli National Geographic

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 3:14 am

A couple of thousand years before the Egyptians preserved some of their dead, a much simpler society made the first known mummies.

The Chinchorros, the first mummy makers, lived about 7,000 years ago in South America, on the coast near the border between modern-day Peru and Chile. The desert area where they lived was so dry, dead people turned into mummies naturally.

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The Record
12:48 am
Wed August 15, 2012

My American Dream Sounds Like The White Stripes

The White Stripes.
Autumn De Wilde Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 1:27 pm

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Sweetness And Light
8:03 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Feeling Just Wild About Wild Cards

Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is out at second against Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. Despite less-than-stellar statistics, the Orioles are contenders in the American League wild-card race.
Nick Wass AP

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 11:46 am

Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, has persuaded his owners and the players to add an extra wild-card team to the playoffs, so now five teams per league will qualify.

Not only is this terrific for the fans, but Selig also wisely managed to make it so that the wild-card teams engage in a one-game showdown for the privilege of being the team that joins the three division winners in the battle for the league championship.

I have just the old-fashioned word for this newfangled development: nifty.

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The Two-Way
4:51 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Fast-Moving Washington Wildfire Burns 60 Homes

As embers still smolder, family members sift through the remains of their home that was destroyed in a wildfire.
Elaine Thompson AP

A wildfire burning near Cle Elum, Wash., has destroyed 60 homes, as it rushed through 45-square-miles of land.

The Seattle Times reports that the fire is still on the move and more homes and ranches are in its path.

The Times adds:

"The fire is proving difficult to fight.

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Election 2012
4:04 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Will Florida Seniors Accept Ryan's Medicare Vision?

An audience member looks on during a campaign rally for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in St. Augustine, Fla., on Monday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 11:07 am

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate may help energize support from conservative voters who like his tough approach to overhauling the federal budget.

But there's a risk that Ryan may turn off an important voting bloc: senior citizens.

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London 2012: The Summer Olympics
3:29 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Medalist Claressa Shields Gets A Hero's Welcome

Olympian Claressa Shields visits the USA House in London before leaving for her home in Flint, Mich. Shields was greeted by a marching band and a motorcycle escort in her hometown.
Joe Scarnici Getty Images for USOC

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 11:07 am

Hundreds gathered in Flint, Mich., Tuesday, to celebrate the return home of Olympian Claressa Shields. At 17, Shields became the first U.S. woman ever — and the only American this summer — to win a gold medal in boxing.

In a rare moment of joy, Flint greeted the high school student with a marching band and a motorcycle escort.

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All Tech Considered
3:29 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Could The New Air Traffic Control System Be Hacked?

The current radar-based air traffic control system (shown here) will eventually be replaced with a new system called NextGen, which will rely on GPS. A number of computer security experts are concerned that NextGen is insecure and vulnerable to hackers.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 11:07 am

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Shots - Health Blog
3:15 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Exposed Nearby City To Little Radiation

Care managers tend elderly people in March 2012 in Minamisoma, Japan. The home's residents were evacuated eight days after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station was crippled by the March 11, 2011 tsunami.
Koji Sasahara AP

After a tsunami disabled the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in March of 2011, residents of the nearby city of Minamisoma, just 14 miles from the plant, were evacuated.

But within a few months, most returned to their homes. Still, many communities near the plant have remained skeptical and concerned about possible radiation exposure.

To find out how much radiation exposure these people have received, Japanese researchers measured levels of radioactive cesium in nearly 10,000 residents starting six months after the incident.

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The Salt
3:11 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Sneaking A Bite During Ramadan's Long, Hot Days

Palestinians order food at a coffee shop in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday.
Tara Todras-Whitehill Tara Todras-Whitehill for NPR

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 9:01 am

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan has fallen on the longest and hottest days of the year, which means up to 15 hours of fasting in soaring temperatures.

This seems to have increased the number of Muslims who aren't fully observing the fast, and may be sneaking a bite or a drink — though no one wants to say so on the record.

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NPR Cities: Urban Life In The 21st Century
3:10 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Scorching Phoenix Plans For An Even Hotter Future

A Metro Light Rail train rolls by the Devine Legacy apartment building along Central Avenue in Phoenix. The energy-efficient complex includes 65 "urban style" apartments.
Courtesy of Mica Thomas Mulloy

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 4:37 pm

It's been a record hot summer in many cities across the nation. Phoenix is no exception. This Sonoran Desert metropolis already records more days over 100 degrees than any other major U.S. city. Now, climate models predict Phoenix will soon get even hotter.

A hotter future may mean a more volatile environment — and along with it, natural disasters, greater pressure on infrastructure, and an increased physical toll on city residents.

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The Two-Way
2:33 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

British Bank Agrees To $340 Million Settlement Over Laundering Charges

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 3:27 pm

Britain's fifth-largest bank has agreed to pay $340 million to settle charges by New York regulators that it laundered money for Iranian clients.

NPR's Chris Arnold filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"In court documents, the regulator alleged that for 10 years Standard Chartered Bank quote 'schemed with the Government of Iran and hid from regulators roughly 60,000 secret transactions... involving $250 billion dollars and reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for the bank.'

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U.S.
2:30 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

What Goes Into Timing Traffic Lights?

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 4:04 pm

As part of the NPR Cities Project, we're exploring some "gee-whiz" questions about how cities work. Melissa Block talks to Gideon Berger, Fellowship Director for the Urban Land Institute, on the street in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown. They talk about the trickiness of timing traffic lights

Science
2:30 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Swiss Scientists Generate 5.5 Trillion Degree Heat

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 4:04 pm

In light of this summer's record high temperatures, we find perspective on really hot temperatures. In an experiment, scientists at Europe's CERN laboratory claim to have achieved the highest temperature ever produced by humans — about 5.5 trillion degrees. Audie Cornish and Melissa Block have more.

It's All Politics
2:02 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Candidates Trade Fire Over Coal In Ohio

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets coal miners during a campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 2:32 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in far eastern Ohio on Tuesday — seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

But Beallsville is in the middle of coal country, and this site was carefully chosen. There's a battle over messaging on coal in Ohio, a state with huge coal reserves and an important but troubled coal industry.

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The Two-Way
1:55 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

First Openly Gay General: DADT Repeal Is More About Recognition Of Family

Army Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith (right) with her wife, Tracey Hepner.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 4:10 pm

Last Friday, when Tammy Smith was promoted to Army brigadier general, her wife, Tracey Hepner, was the one who pinned her star on her uniform.

With that, Smith became the first openly gay general in the country. When Smith joined the military 26 years ago, the moment would have been unthinkable. But she explains the historic moment by focusing on its simplicity.

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The Salt
1:40 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Secret Side Of The Drought: Many Corn Farmers Will Benefit

President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (second from right) inspect drought-damaged corn on the McIntosh farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:28 am

You've all heard a lot about this year's devastating drought in the Midwest, right? The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last Friday that the average U.S. cornfield this year will yield less per acre than it has since 1995. Soybean yields are down, too.

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Europe
12:49 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Germans Confront The Costs Of A Nuclear-Free Future

A worker on a newly constructed transmission tower near Buetzow, Germany, earlier this month. The German government plans to shut down nuclear power plants and is seeking to replace that production with power from renewable energy sources, especially wind turbines and solar parks. New power transmission lines will be needed.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 11:07 am

After Japan's Fukushima disaster last year, Germany announced a groundbreaking energy plan: It would phase out all of its domestic nuclear power in a decade and make a transition to safer, carbon neutral energy.

The goal is to have solar, wind and other renewables account for nearly 40 percent of the energy for Europe's largest economy in a decade, and 80 percent by 2050.

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Presidential Race
12:44 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Tale Of The Tape: The VP And His Challenger

Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Evan Vucci/Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 12:49 pm

Who Is He?

Joe Biden: Biden, whose own presidential aspirations sputtered in 1988 and again in 2008, brought to the Democratic ticket foreign policy chops and an ability to relate to working-class voters. In his 36 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate, he became known as more pragmatist than ideologue. He has also made a somewhat dubious name for himself because of his volubility and not infrequent verbal stumbles. But he has parlayed those potential liabilities into an effective, if occasionally unpredictable, campaign trail presence.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:22 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Family's Fight Against Bipolar Disorder Leads To Shock Therapy Success

Linea Johnson, left, and her mother, Cinda, in May 2012 at the launch of their book on the family's struggle with Linea's bipolar disorder.
Tommy Voeten

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 12:56 pm

The Mayo Clinic's confirmation Monday that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is receiving care there for bipolar depression is a reminder that the condition, which affects around 2.3 million Americans, can be treated.

But figuring out the right treatment for each patient can be a long and difficult road, as a new memoir called Perfect Chaos: A Daughter's Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother's Struggle to Save Her shows.

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The Two-Way
12:10 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Actor Ron Palillo Dies, He Was Horshack On 'Welcome Back, Kotter'

Actor Ron Palillo, best known as Arnold Horshack.
Todd Williamson Getty Images for TV Land

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 12:40 pm

"Ooh, Ooh, Ooh, Mr. Kotter!"

If you watched TV in the '70s, you probably recognize that line.

So it's with some sadness that we pass along word that Ron Palillo, the actor who played Arnold Horshack on ABC-TV's Welcome Back, Kotter, has died in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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The Two-Way
11:54 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Leader Of Anti-Semitic Party In Hungary Discovers He's Jewish

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 2:11 pm

There's a story out of Hungary that has received quite a bit of play from the religious press but hadn't quite risen to the mainstream until the AP ran a piece about it today.

It's quite dramatic with an incredible plot twist: One of the leaders of Hungary's Jobbik Party, which the Anti-Defamation League says is one of the few political parties in Europe to overtly campaign with anti-Semitic materials, has discovered that he is himself a Jew.

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The Two-Way
11:01 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Multiple Suicide Attacks Cause Double-Digit Death Toll In Afghanistan

Suicide bombers struck in a normally peaceful area of southwestern Afghanistan today.

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The Two-Way
10:50 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Commission Says Penn State's Accreditation Is 'In Jeopardy'

Penn State during the football team's media day in State College, Pa., on Thursday.
Gene J. Puskar AP

The commission in charge of accrediting universities in the Mid-Atlantic region has warned Penn State that if it doesn't make changes in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, it could lose its accreditation.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education put the university "on warning," the AP reports, saying that it wants a report on how the university is complying with integrity standards.

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Participation Nation
10:32 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Blind Stokers Club In San Diego, Calif.

Captain and stoker in the BSC.
Evan Rasmussen Courtesy of the BSC

In tandem bicycle lingo, the captain is in the front, the stoker in the back.

The San Diego-based Blind Stokers Club, founded by Dave White, pairs sighted captains with blind stokers on high performance tandem bikes. As part of a year-round cycling program, members train for Cycling for Sight, a three-day, 200-mile event that benefits the San Diego Center for the Blind.

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Around the Nation
9:10 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Is Drought Slowly Killing US Farms?

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 10:13 am

Farmers and ranchers continue to suffer from one of the country's worst droughts in 50 years. President Obama recently announced the government will buy up to $170 million of meat from farmers. But some say it's too little too late. Guest host Jacki Lyden speaks with Virginia farmer John Boyd and Harvest Public Media reporter Peggy Lowe.

The Two-Way
8:31 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Florida's Biggest Python So Far Measured 17 Feet, 7 Inches; Had 87 Eggs

Florida Museum of Natural History researchers at work on the record-long Burmese python.
University of Florida

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 11:07 am

She was about three feet longer than the distance from an NBA free throw line to the basket. She was a bit more than twice the height of many bedroom ceilings. You could park two Smart Cars beside her with a foot or so to spare.

Those are some ways to get a sense of just how big the biggest Burmese python discovered so far in Florida was.

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It's All Politics
8:23 am
Tue August 14, 2012

N.J. Gov. Christie To Keynote Romney's Convention

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Des Moines, Iowa, on Dec. 30, 2011.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 9:09 am

The man some Republicans once hoped would be their party's 2012 presidential nominee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will instead deliver the keynote speech at the national convention that will make Mitt Romney the GOP's official standard-bearer.

Christie has won plaudits from Republicans for an everyman style, for taking on the New Jersey teachers unions, and for generally not suffering lightly those he considers fools — whether they're voters, members of the media or even some members of his own party.

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