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11:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

China's V.P. Strengthens Ties In Muscatine, Iowa

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the heir apparent to the presidency, visited Muscatine, Iowa Wednesday. He spent a week with a family there in 1979 to learn about American agriculture. Des Moines Register reporter Kyle Munson discusses the relationships foreign leaders form with U.S. towns.

Mental Health
11:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Providing Therapy Across Different Cultures

When immigrants face depression, therapy may not be the first option they explore for relief. When they do seek counseling, they often encounter a cross-cultural struggle to understand and be understood by American practitioners.

Middle East
11:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

The Growing Conflict Over Iran's Nuclear Program

Israel blames Iran for attacks in the capital cities of India, Georgia and Thailand, further escalating Israeli-Iranian tensions. Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl believes that Iranian leaders are exhibiting signs of desperation.

The Two-Way
10:39 am
Wed February 15, 2012

President's 2013 Budget Includes Slight Boost For Arts, Cultural Agencies

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 3:25 pm

The 2013 budget proposed by President Obama includes many cuts made to conform with new spending limits. But several arts and cultural institutions saw their allotment rise by about 5 percent in the proposed plan. The proposed spending of $1.576 billion — in a budget of $3.8 trillion — includes some good news for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Endowments for the Arts.

For the Newscast desk, Elizabeth Blair filed this report:

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It's All Politics
10:23 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Election-Year Realities Bring Compromise On Payroll Taxes And More

Speaker John Boehner didn't cite it being an election year or Congress' low approval ratings for the GOP's new flexibility but it's hard to ignore such realities.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 12:11 pm

Part of President Obama's 2012 re-election strategy was to run against a do-nothing Congress. But congressional Republicans now appear determined to make that approach harder for him by coming to terms on some Democratic priorities.

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National Security
10:22 am
Wed February 15, 2012

As Wars Wind Down, What Are U.S. Security Needs?

U.S. soldiers are expected to be in Afghanistan for a couple more years. But already there's a debate about future U.S. security needs worldwide. Here, soldiers examine the site of a suicide bombing in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Jan. 19.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:07 am

U.S. troops have already left Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, and there hasn't been a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 2001.

So is America now safe enough to scale back its emphasis on security? Or are the potential threats no less dangerous — just less obvious?

These questions are not just philosophical, but practical. They're also the underpinning of the current argument about what the level of defense spending should be.

Cuts, But How Big?

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Education
10:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Big Changes Ahead For American Schools?

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 10:46 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

President Obama's new budget is the talk of Capitol Hill this week. And while most of the headlines are about the ongoing fight over how best to reduce the federal deficit, the president's proposal also calls for a significant boost in education funding. It's yet another window into his administration's philosophy around education.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Does Contraception Really Pay For Itself?

Birth control will be paid for by employees' insurance companies, if their employers refuse to do so.
istockphoto.com

Last week, President Barack Obama announced that religious groups won't have to pay for contraceptive services themselves. Instead, the cost would be borne by their insurance companies.

That compromise has raised a whole new set of questions on its own, though.

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Politics
9:38 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Why America Pursues More Perfect Politics

Americans are always searching for a "more perfect union." Volunteers roll up a giant banner printed with the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution during a demonstration against the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Oct. 20, 2010.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Americans are obsessed with perfection.

We implement zero-tolerance policies in our schools and businesses. We improve on the atomic clock with the quantum-logic clock that is twice as precise. We use multi-angle instant replay cameras in certain professional sporting contests to make sure the referees' calls are flawless. We spend millions on plastic surgery. We strive for higher fidelity, resolution, definition, everything.

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Author Interviews
9:26 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Nathan Englander: Assimilating Thoughts Into Stories

Nathan Englander grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family. He now splits his time between New York and Madison, Wis.
Juliana Sohn

The stories in Nathan Englander's new collection are based largely on his experiences growing up as a modern Orthodox Jew with an overprotective mother.

In What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Englander writes about his own faith — and what it means to be Jewish — in stories that explore religious tension, Israeli-American relations and the Holocaust.

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The Two-Way
9:24 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Administration Proposes $5 Billion Competition To Improve Teacher Quality

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 9:26 am

Using its Race to the Top program as a model, the Obama administration is expected to announce a $5 billion competition designed to improve teacher quality.

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The Picture Show
9:03 am
Wed February 15, 2012

'Flying Mop' And Other Canine Glam Shots

A Puli leaps toward the camera
Tim Flach

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:01 am

Here's English photographer Tim Flach's take on the breed that just won best in show at the Westminster Dog Show, i.e., the Pekingese:

Taken for his 2010 book Dogs, this portrait is quite different from photos you might have seen of the award-winning Malachy.

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Book Reviews
9:01 am
Wed February 15, 2012

More Than Melancholy: 'In-Flight' Stories Soar

Random House

The Brits: You've got to hand it to them. The Empire may be long gone, but they still reign supreme when it comes to effortlessly exuding mordant wit. For anyone who savors the acerbic literary likes of Evelyn Waugh or the Amises, father and son, Helen Simpson is just the ticket.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:42 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Consumer Groups Want Lead Out Of Lipstick

Time to get the lead out?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 8:44 am

Valentine's Day brought new attention to an old issue. Is the amount of lead found in lipstick a health hazard?

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a consortium of consumer and environmental groups, thinks so. They've argued that there's no safe level for lead in lipsticks — especially for pregnant women and kids — and want the agency to do something to bring the amount of the metal down.

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The Two-Way
8:13 am
Wed February 15, 2012

108 Years Since Women Last Boxed In The Olympics, They Prepare A Return

Five-time U.S. national champion Queen Underwood listens to instructions from her coach Basheer Abdullah.
Tom Goldman NPR

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:31 am

Olympic history in the making is going on this week in Washington state. Two-dozen of the best female boxers in the country are in wintry Spokane with a goal of traveling to London in the summer.

That's the site of the first ever women's Olympic boxing competition. This week's Olympic trials help determine who goes.

It's been 108 years since women boxed in the Olympics. At the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis, boxing for women was a "display event," not one of the counting, medal sports.

Now, it counts.

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It's All Politics
7:45 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Poll: Obama Hits 50% Approval, Leads All GOP Rivals, For Now

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 7:47 am

The new CBS News/NY Times poll definitely contains the kind of information that could put a little spring in any president's step.

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The Two-Way
7:32 am
Wed February 15, 2012

U.S. Factories Boost Output In January

Manufacturing output increased 0.7 percent in January, the Federal Reserve announced today, adding that it had revised December's number sharply upward to 1.5 percent.

The AP reports that December number was the biggest gain since Dec. 2006. The AP adds:

"Overall industrial production, which includes output by mines and utilities as well as factories, was unchanged in January.

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It's All Politics
6:56 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Mich. TV Ad Battle Pt 2: Santorum Humorously Attacks Romney

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 1:28 pm

Rick Santorum's presidential campaign has just put up one of the cleverest ads of 2012. (Of course, we're only less than two months into the year.)

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The Two-Way
6:26 am
Wed February 15, 2012

As Crackdown Continues, Syria's Assad Calls For Constitutional Referendum

Civilians flee from fighting on Tuesday, after Syrian army tanks enter the northwestern city of Idlib, Syria.
Anonymous AP

As government forces continued to shell the cities of Homs and Hama, Syrian President Bashar Assad announced his country would hold a referendum on a new constitution on Feb. 26.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the state's official news outlet, the new constitution would end the Baath party's monopoly on power. SANA added:

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The Two-Way
5:57 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Malachy, The Pekingese, Becomes Top Dog In The Land

Malachy, a Pekingese, won best in show at the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York on Tuesday.
Seth Wenig AP

He took on competition that was much bigger and much faster, but in the end the judges decided Malachy, a Pekingese with a long mop of fur framing his funny little pushed-in face, was the top dog in the land and gave him top honors at the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York.

The New York Times describes his win thus:

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Prison Fire Kills More Than 200 Inmates In Honduras

A woman cries after she was informed of the death of her son, who was jailed at the National Prison compound in Comayagua, Honduras.
Orlando Sierra AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 10:15 am

A fire that swept through a prison in Honduras overnight has resulted in death of more than 300 people.

The AP reports that number was given by Lucy Marder, chief of forensic medicine for the prosecutors' office, during a press conference.

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The Two-Way
5:02 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Iran's Ahmadinejad Will Announce 'Key Nuclear Achievements'

Despite international pressure, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to a technician during a visit to the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, 200 miles south of the capital, Tehran, in 2008.
Iranian President's Office AP

Iranian State TV reported yesterday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will make an announcement about "key nuclear achievements," today.

Quoting the official news agency, The New York Times reports that Ahmadinejad will likely "proclaim that a new uranium enrichment plant built inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum was 'fully operational.'"

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Politics
2:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Congress May Skip Payroll Tax Showdown This Time

Congress appears to have avoided another showdown over the payroll tax reduction that has been pumping billions of dollars back into the economy. There may even be a deal ahead on jobless benefits and payments to Medicare doctors.

The last time Congress extended the payroll tax holiday was in December, when it passed a two-month extension tied to two other measures. One extended unemployment benefits, and the second fixed a formula by which Medicare doctors are paid. The Medicare fix would stop big cuts in reimbursements for doctors.

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Asia
1:00 am
Wed February 15, 2012

For China's Likely Premier, A Western Influence

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, shown here delivering a speech at a Canada-China business forum in Beijing, on Feb. 9, 2012, is expected to become the country's next premier. In contrast to most other Chinese leaders, Li speaks English and has had considerable exposure to Western ideas.
Diego Azubel AP

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:31 am

Third of three parts

The man who's expected to become China's president next year, Xi Jinping, is considered a princeling, the son of a prominent Chinese political figure. But the man who's likely to become premier, Li Keqiang, comes from very different stock.

The son of a minor party official, Li worked as a farmer for four years, before studying law at university.

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The Two-Way
10:01 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Wealthy Colleges See Spike In Fundraising

Stanford University raised $709.42 million in 2011.
Paul Sakuma AP

There are college rankings and there are college rankings: the nation's top colleges, the best basketball teams, the top party schools. Here's another: a list of 20 institutions and the money they received in 2011.

Stanford topped the list, raising more money from private donors that anyone else in 2011 ($709.42 million). Harvard and Yale rounded off the top three with $639.15 million and $$580.33 million, respectively. The survey was released Wednesday by the Council for Aid to Education.

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Governing
10:01 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

N.H. Lawmakers Consider Rolling Back Gay Marriage

Couples Gretchen Grappone and Rose Wiant (left). and Wendy Waterstrat and Holly Henshaw hold hands before their civil union, in front of the Statehouse in Concord, N.H., on Jan. 1, 2008.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:31 am

As several states debate measures to legalize gay marriage, New Hampshire is considering a repeal of its same-sex marriage law. The repeal has the backing of some top leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature. But rescinding rights is never easy, particularly in a state that takes its liberties seriously.

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Asia
10:01 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Opposition Leader Bets On Myanmar Reforms

Ethnic Karen women welcome opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to War Thein Kha village. The area is in Kawhmu Township, which Suu Kyi is campaigning to represent in Myanmar's parliament.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:31 am

The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.

But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.

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Media
10:01 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

The Ad Council: 70 Years Of Good Advice

If you've listened to the radio, turned on the TV or seen any billboards, these tag lines are probably pretty familiar:

"Loose lips sink ships."

"Only you can prevent forest fires."

"A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

"Take a bite out of crime."

They're just a few of the many ads created by the Ad Council, a nonprofit organization that was founded in the 1940s by the leaders of the advertising industry and President Franklin Roosevelt.

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Middle East
10:01 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Syrian Activists Live Stream Their Revolution

Activists say this image, taken from a video uploaded to YouTube, shows Syrians outside a field hospital in Homs last week.
AFP/Getty Images

Syrian troops have fired rockets and mortars at neighborhoods in the city of Homs that have most fiercely resisted the government throughout the uprising.

Mainstream journalists are barred from entering Homs, so a team of activists decided to record the offensive themselves. The activists positioned their cameras atop buildings in the city. Each morning the view is blue sky, a minaret, a sea of rooftops. Then come the booms.

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