NPR News

Africa
2:59 am
Wed August 1, 2012

As Islamists Gain, Mali's Tradition Under Threat

A soldier wears a button bearing the image of coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo with the words 'President, CNRDRE,' the French acronym of the ruling junta, as he stands guard at junta headquarters in Kati, outside Bamako, Mali.
Rebecca Blackwell AP

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Hard-line Islamists in northern Mali stoned a reportedly unmarried couple to death for adultery last Sunday. Analysts worry this is growing evidence of the rebel fighters' avowed intention to impose strict Islamic law in the vast territory under their control.

Another version of the story put about by an al-Qaida-linked militant group is that the couple was married but engaging in extramarital affairs.

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Dead Stop
2:56 am
Wed August 1, 2012

The Ghostly Grandeur Of A Desert Graveyard

A couple celebrates Dia de los Muertos at the Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas.
Stacy Kendrick Concordia Cemetery

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

It's a raggedy moonscape; no lush green grass or tranquil arbors here. Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas, just a few blocks from the Mexican border, is stark and dusty. It's overrun with crumbling concrete markers and old wooden crosses gone askew. And it goes on ... and on ... and on.

"It's 52 acres," says Bernie Sargent, chair of the El Paso County Historical Commission. "Sixty thousand people buried here. And they're all dead."

The Grave Of A Wild West Legend

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Shots - Health Blog
2:56 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Under Health Law, 'No-Cost' Birth Control Starts Today

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joins Democratic senators at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to announce new preventive health coverage for women that takes effect Wednesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 5:31 am

Beginning today, most new and renewing health insurance plans must begin offering a broad array of women's preventive health services, most notably coverage of birth control, at no upfront cost.

But even as they take effect, the new rules remain the subject of legal challenges.

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Media
5:09 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Newspaper Takes A Stand On Anonymous Commenters

Linda Cook eventually revealed herself as the commenter who made a disparaging remark about an Idaho Republican Party official online.
Sandy Clemons Courtesy of Linda Cook

The Internet is slowly becoming a less anonymous place. YouTube has a new policy encouraging commenters to use their real names, and many news sites have switched to a login system run by Facebook.

News sites that still allow anonymous comments are finding there are legal risks. The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash., has spent the last few months trying to protect the identity of a reader who saw a photo of a Republican Party official in Idaho named Tina Jacobson, and then posted a disparaging comment.

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The Torch
4:37 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

We've Got Olympic Spirit, Yes We Do; How 'Bout You?

Cheerleaders perform during the women's beach volleyball preliminary phase Pool B match on the Centre Court Stadium at Horse Guards Parade in London on Monday.
Daniel Garcia AFP/Getty Images

When I say citius, you say altius; when I say altius, you say fortius. Or don't. That's fine, too, traditional even. But these Olympics have conspicuously defied traditional notions by having cheerleaders, in a few different styles, at a few different venues. In basketball, dance teams perform between matches. In beach volleyball, highly choreographed teams delight attendees.

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The Salt
3:30 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Bhutan Bets Organic Agriculture Is The Road To Happiness

A Bhutanese farmer puts her harvest of chilies on the roof of a shed to dry and protect it from wild boars, deer, and monkeys in 2006.
James L. Stanfield National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 9:32 am

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan drew international attention a few years back for saying gross national happiness should trump gross domestic product when measuring a nation's progress. If you're going to prioritize happiness, the Bhutanese thinking goes, you'd better include the environment and spiritual and mental well-being in your calculations.

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The Two-Way
3:20 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Holds Firm Against Mortgage Write-Downs

Many experts say reducing mortgage principal can help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. But the regulator who oversees two of the nation's largest mortgage holders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has rejected the idea.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A federal regulator is blocking the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from reducing the principal that homeowners owe on their mortgages in order to avoid foreclosures.

Tuesday's decision came from Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:11 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

NIH Official Calls For Extension Of Moratorium On Bird Flu Experiments

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said a voluntary halt to bird flu research should stay in effect.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A voluntary moratorium on certain experiments involving forms of bird flu altered in laboratories should continue until there can be more public discussion of safety concerns, a prominent government official told flu researchers at a meeting in New York City Tuesday.

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It's All Politics
3:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama And Bush's Shared First-Term Obsession: Battleground States

What does President Obama have in common with his immediate White House predecessor?

Both men spent a disproportionate amount of their first terms making appearances in battleground states, Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the U.S. Naval Academy, writes in a post on The Monkey Cage political-science blog.

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Asia
3:06 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

India's Power Woes A Classic Story Of Supply, Demand

Muslim girls study by candlelight Monday inside a madrasa, or religious school, in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi. Three regional power grids collapsed, causing a massive power outage that blacked out more than half of India.
Parivartan Sharma Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 12:25 pm

It might be too early to say what the exact cause of India's latest massive power outage is, but in its simplest form, it probably has something to do with supply and demand –- not enough of the former and too much of the latter.

The outage, which left more than 670 million of the country's 1.2 billion people without power, snarled traffic, shut down electric trains and idled some businesses. Indian officials say they are rapidly restoring power, but it's unclear how soon the situation will be back to normal.

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Election 2012
2:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

On Iran, Romney's Plan Resembles Obama's Reality

Mitt Romney speaks in Jerusalem on Sunday, backing "any and all measures" to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Uriel Sinai Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 9:40 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says America's national security priority should be preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and he was talking tough about this in his recent stop in Jerusalem.

"History teaches with force and clarity that when the world's most despotic regimes secure the world's most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war," Romney said. "We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option."

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The Torch
2:58 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

With A Tiger's Help, Orange Juice Helps Lighten The Mood At Olympics

On their bottles, Innocent declares itself the juice of champions — before adding, "rather than bang on about it, we thought we'd show you a picture of a tiger running through his pre-swim checklist." The drinks are a welcome sight at the Olympic media center.
Vickie Walton-James NPR

When you spend hours on end at a media center, even if it's on an assignment as terrific as the Summer Olympics, the refreshments can get to be, well, familiar.

But no contempt has been bred here. That's partly because of Innocent brand juice — the "official smoothie and juice of the London 2012 Olympic games," as the label says.

And any drink that can make us chuckle on deadline is greatly appreciated. Especially if it's what's on the outside of the bottle that makes us laugh.

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PG-13: Risky Reads
2:51 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Grotesque Horror Through A Kid-Sized Window

cover detail

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 2:15 pm

Erin Morgenstern is the author of The Night Circus.

There are still days when rain flooding the gutters conjures a picture in my mind of a paper boat being chased by a little boy in a yellow raincoat. The boy's name is Georgie and he is about to meet a rather gruesome fate, smiling up at him from a storm drain.

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The Torch
2:46 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Phelps Sets New Olympic Record With 19 Medals; America's Schmitt Wins Gold

U.S. swimmers Conor Dwyer (left), Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens poses on the podium with their gold medals after winning the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:35 pm

The U.S. men's swimming team has won the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a race that also gave Michael Phelps a record 19 medals in the Olympics. He netted his 18th, a silver, earlier in the day.

Update at 4:05 p.m. EDT: For the relay final, the American team swam in the fourth lane, next to their greatest rivals, the French, who posted the fasted qualifying time. The French are led by Yannick Agnel, who soundly defeated Ryan Lochte and others in the men's 200m freestyle Monday.

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World
2:41 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Opera Unfolds When A Cuban Cabaret Is Shut Down

Cuban performers ranging from dancers to opera singers were packing in audiences at Havana's El Cabildo restaurant and cabaret. In a case seen as a test of Raul Castro's commitment to economic changes, government inspectors recently closed the restaurant.
Desmond Boylan Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 1:18 pm

Ulises Aquino was already one of Cuba's best-known baritones when he founded his own company, Opera de la Calle, or Opera of the Street, in 2006. By combining Cuban rhythms and dance with his formal musical training, he won fans at home and abroad.

Aquino also considers himself a good "revolucionario," meaning he's a loyal supporter of Cuba's socialist system. And when President Raul Castro urged Cubans to increase productivity by starting small businesses, Aquino answered the call.

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The Two-Way
1:55 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Microsoft Gives Hotmail A Facelift, Says It Will Transition It To Outlook

The new Outlook is incorporated with other services like Skype.
Microsoft

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:00 am

Microsoft announced that Hotmail — the email service with 324 million users — will transition into a web and more social version of Microsoft's Outlook.

Reuters reports that Microsoft made the announcement, as they showed off their free web version of the email program it is renowned for.

Reuters adds:

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World Cafe
1:18 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Kat Edmonson On World Cafe

Kat Edmonson.
Courtesy of the artist

Texas native Kat Edmonson possesses astonishing vocal control: She glides effortlessly between tones, and can move from a lilting falsetto to a raspy growl with ease. Her debut album, 2009's Take to the Sky, finds her exploring the roots of classic pop and jazz songs — an approach she continues on its sequel, this year's Way Down Low.

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The Two-Way
1:10 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Deal Struck To Avoid Possibility Of Government Shutdown In October

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced on Tuesday an agreement to avoid a government shutdown shortly before the November election," The Hill writes. "He said he, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and President Obama have all agreed to the deal."

Boehner confirmed the news in an email his staff just sent to reporters:

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The Torch
12:27 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team Wins Gold Medal; First In 16 Years

Young Skywalker: Gabby Douglas helped solidify the U.S. women's team grip on gymnastics gold. The Americans beat Russia and Romania.
Ronald Martinez Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 4:35 pm

The U.S. women's gymnastics team has won the team gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, handily beating Russia, which took silver, and Romania, which took bronze. China finished fourth.

Update at 2:25 p.m. EDT: The U.S. women led off with their strength — the vault. The apparatus gives them an advantage, and not only because Maroney is the world champion and gold-medal favorite in the event.

The AP describes why:

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Shots - Health Blog
12:17 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

As Ebola Cases Rise In Uganda, Health Workers Seek To Contain Virus

The Ebola virus causes a deadly form of hemorrhagic fever.
Frederick Murphy CDC

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 6:16 pm

The number of Ebola cases in Uganda has increased during the past few days, a spokesman from the World Health Organization tells Shots. But the outbreak is still limited to a small region.

"Accumulatively to date, there are 36 suspected or confirmed cases," WHO's Gregory Hartl says. "All cases are in the Kibaale district," a rural region west of Uganda's capital, Kampala.

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It's All Politics
11:39 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Obama Chooses San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro As Convention Keynoter

In what now looks like practice for the big show to come, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address at the Texas Democratic Convention in Houston on June 8.
Pat Sullivan AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 2:29 pm

Get used to hearing the name Julian Castro. You're likely to be coming across it a lot in coming days and perhaps beyond.

President Obama chose Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September.

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The Two-Way
11:28 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Dying Man's Wish To Leave $500 Tip Turns Into Nearly $50,000 Charity

Aaron Collins, who wanted to leave a big tip.
Facebook.com/AaronsLastWish

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 8:13 am

This good-news story began on July 9 with a blog post simply titled "My Brother."

Aaron Collins, wrote his brother Seth, "was the type of person that took great joy in unexpected kindness." And before his July 7 death, the nearly 30-year-old Aaron had made a request:

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The Torch
11:25 am
Tue July 31, 2012

London 2012 Lives Up To 'Social Games' Title, In Unwelcome Ways

The London Games have lived up to their hype as the first truly "social" Olympics. But social media like Twitter have also brought embarrassments, and even an arrest.
NPR

The London 2012 Games have been touted as the first Olympics to live fully in the age of social media. After all, the organization's Twitter feed has nearly 1.4 million followers, as it lists on its special portal for Facebook and other social sites. But a rash of scandals and news related to Twitter has put a new mark on the face of these games. And, as they say, it ain't pretty.

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Music
11:14 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Boban i Marko Markovic: Irresistible Party Music

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar performs onstage in 2008.
Roger Kisby Getty Images

A dozen years ago, if someone told me that one of the liveliest, most inventive party albums of the year would come from a band originally associated with wedding celebrations and beer festivals, I would have been all, "Yeah, sure, you bet." If it was further explained that the band's roots were much closer to polka than rock, funk or hip-hop, I would have responded, "Don't push it." But nowadays, I'm familiar with the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, whose retrospective Golden Horns will lighten the heart and lift the feet as surely as anything you'll hear in 2012.

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The Two-Way
10:19 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Julián Castro, San Antonio Mayor, Will Deliver Democratic Convention Keynote

Mayor Julian Castro his daughter Carina, 2, and wife Erica (background) greet supporters at his campaign headquarters in 2011.
EDWARD A. ORNELAS AP

Julián Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, will become the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at Democratic National Convention.

Castro, 37, is scheduled to speak Sept. 4 to open the convention, a slot usually reserved to showcase promising politicians.

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Politics
10:01 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Chick-fil-A Comments Still Churning Some Stomachs

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 1:00 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. As the world watches Olympic athletes go for the gold, we decided to check in with some dedicated sports moms about how parents can encourage their kids in sports without becoming, you know, those people. That's later in the program.

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News
10:01 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Is Chick-fil-A Controversy A Civil Rights Debate?

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 12:59 pm

We continue our conversation with Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell. Host Michel Martin asks if Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's comments amount to hate speech.

Food
10:01 am
Tue July 31, 2012

The Chick-fil-A Dilemma: To Eat or Not To Eat?

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 12:58 pm

The controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A has left some consumers wondering whether they should eat there or not. Ahead of "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" host Michel Martin speaks with ethicist Jack Marshall about the implications of spending decisions and what role businesses and political leaders have to play.

The Two-Way
9:38 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Romney Aide To Reporters: 'Kiss My ... This Is A Holy Site'

Mitt Romney, at the top right, as he prepared to get into his car even as reporters were shouting questions.
Politico

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 12:02 pm

Note: there is a mild obscenity in this post.

We have a feeling this quote will loom large in campaign 2012 lore:

"Kiss my ass; this is a holy site for the Polish people."

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It's All Politics
9:25 am
Tue July 31, 2012

As Romney Heads Home, Campaign Steers Talk Back To Running Mate

Mitt Romney speaks at the University of Warsaw Library in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 11:40 am

After a weeklong international trip took the focus off of Bain Capital and taxes, the Mitt Romney campaign may be ready to take the focus off of its international trip.

On Tuesday, Romney wrapped up his three-nation tour with a speech in Poland, while back home, his campaign announced a new app to keep track of the running mate selection process: "The historic announcement is getting closer," said campaign adviser Beth Myers.

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