Ask Americans about the most pressing concerns for the nation, and overhauling the tax code probably isn't all that high on the list — that is, unless those Americans happen to be Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairmen of the congressional tax-writing committees.
The two lawmakers are on a mission to simplify the tax code.
When they're out on the road selling that tax overhaul, they don't wear ties and they skip much of the formality of Washington — like last names even. Just call them Max and Dave.
On the Ashley River, a few miles south of Charleston, S.C., the water is murky and the marsh grass high. A three-man logging crew is cruising on a 24-foot pontoon boat. It's low tide and logs are poking out everywhere.
Hewitt Emerson, owner of the Charleston-based reclaimed wood company Heartwood South, is in charge. He's going to an old saw mill site, but won't say exactly where. He's heading to Blackbeard's Creek, he says, as in pirate Blackbeard — the early 18th century scourge of the seas.
For Robert Pinsky, the pleasure in poetry comes from the music of the language, and not from the meaning of the words. So he put together an anthology of 80 poems that are models by master poets-- from Sappho to Allen Ginsberg, Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson.
Apple has been notoriously disinterested in Washington politics. But two decisions coming from the Obama administration in the past few days indicate that Washington is increasingly interested in Apple.
As our colleagues at The Two-Way reported, Tawana Brawley, the central figure in one of the most bizarre and racially polarizing cases in New York City's recent history, has begun to pay part of the more than $430,000 judgment against her.
Brawley accused a group of men of having raped her repeatedly. Among those she accused were several police officers and a prosecutor.
A gene that affects the brain's dopamine system appears to have influenced mothers' behavior during a recent economic downturn, researchers say.
At the beginning of the recession that began in 2007, mothers with the "sensitive" version of a gene called DRD2 became more likely to strike or scream at their children, the researchers say. Mothers with the other "insensitive" version of the gene didn't change their behavior.
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 6:01 pm
By suspending New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for 211 regular-season games — through the end of the 2014 regular season — Major League Baseball stopped short of the lifetime ban that had been threatened.
Arizona's Monument Valley is known for its red sandstone buttes and spires, but now it's notorious for something else: crime. The Navajo Nation is one of the most violent reservations in the country. According to FBI reports, over the past five years, more rapes were reported on the Navajo Nation than in San Diego, Detroit or Denver, among other cities.
The U.S. attorney's office tries to take on the most violent crimes, but it often lacks enough evidence to prosecute. And because of antiquated tribal codes, Navajo courts can only order someone to serve one year in jail.
The man who pushed the book publishing industry into the digital age is now buying one of the country's most storied newspaper companies. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is acquiring The Washington Post and its small sister papers. The news broke after the markets closed today. NPR's David Folkenflik covers the newspaper industry, and he joins me now. And, David, this was, I think, the best-kept secret in Washington. Tell us some details of this transaction and how it came about.
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 8:03 am
The Washington Post Co. will sell its flagship newspaper and one of the most respected news organizations in the country to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, the company announced in a press release. The Post has been a family-owned business for four generations.
Amazon, the company said, will play no role in the purchase. Bezos is making the purchase personally.
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 4:59 pm
The Last of Us is a new survival horror video game. It follows a character named Joel as he fights off hostile humans and zombie-like creatures. The game was inspired by a BBC show on the scary effects of a fungus. (This piece initially aired July 9, 2013, on Morning Edition).
Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 3:04 pm
After three months, $330,000 and a high-profile media blitz, the world's first hamburger grown in a lab made its worldwide debut Monday.
The unveiling of "cultured beef," as the burger is branded, was a production worthy of the Food Network era, complete with chatty host, live-streamed video, hand-picked taste testers, a top London chef and an eager audience (made up mostly of journalists). Rarely has a single food gotten such star treatment.
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 5:04 am
Silly me. I thought "rent-seeking" was something only landlords did.
But economists have their own way of looking at the world. To them, rent-seeking is a term for describing how someone snags a bigger share of a pie rather than making a pie bigger, as the venerable Economistexplains it.
So, a drugmaker can be seen as a rent-seeker if it cajoles doctors to prescribe more of a particular brand of medicine at the expense of a rival pharmaceutical company's wares.
Scrutinizing the books of government agencies can turn up lavish parties or illicit trips at the taxpayers' expense. But not every investigation turns out that way. And when they don't, the hunt for waste can appear to be a waste itself.
Such appears to be the case with a recent inquiry involving NASA and Viking re-enactors. This whole saga began with an idea from Ved Chirayath, an aeronautics graduate student at Stanford University who loves photography. He was talking over what to shoot one day with a colleague, and thought of Vikings.
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 4:20 pm
All of a sudden, Sen. John McCain matters again.
It's not like he disappeared. But after being sidelined for a time by his 2008 defeat in the presidential election against Barack Obama, the Arizona Republican has re-emerged as one of Obama's most important allies in the Senate.
McCain took the lead in crafting immigration legislation that passed the Senate in June. Last month, he came up with the deal that prevented the Senate from abolishing judicial filibusters, allowing several Obama Cabinet and agency nominees to win confirmation.
The likes of you and I can't buy Google Glass yet. It's available only to the select developers and opinion-makers who have been permitted to spring $1,500 for the privilege of having the first one on the block. But I've seen a few around my San Francisco neighborhood among the young techies who commute down to the Google and Facebook campuses in WiFi-equipped shuttle buses or who pedal downtown to Zynga and Twitter on their fixies.
Country-music star Vince Gill and steel guitarist Paul Franklin have teamed up to record a new concept album called Bakersfield. Their idea is to cover hits from the 1960s and '70s by two artists who helped define the Bakersfield, Calif., country sound: Merle Haggard and the Strangers and Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. But this is no nostalgia-fest — it's a vital testament to music that retains energy and innovation.
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 12:44 pm
There are, for eaters of sandwiches, pilgrimages that must be made. In fact, the pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower were on a pilgrimage to try the first day-after-Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwich. After that, the next most important pilgrimage may be to the Beacon Drive-In Restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C.
We've all had the experience of watching a great athletic performance — from gymnast Mary Lou Retton defying gravity to Michael Jordan sinking a mind-blowing turnaround jumper — and wondered: Were they born with that talent or can you get there with hard work and practice?
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 12:48 pm
For its "Astronomy Picture of the Day," NASA is featuring a time-lapse video of what Earth looked like from the Messenger spacecraft as it left its home planet in August of 2005 for its mission to Mercury, our solar system's innermost planet:
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 12:32 pm
It was 1987 when a black teenager, Tawana Brawley, said she had been raped and kidnapped by a group of white men in Dutchess County, N.Y.
Her story of being attacked, scrawled with racial slurs, smeared with feces and left beside a road wrapped in a plastic bag made front pages across the nation — especially after the Rev. Al Sharpton took up her case.
Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 12:21 pm
Time was when the belongings you left behind after death were tangible — furniture, jewelry, letters — and financial property, which hundreds of years of experience have taught executors how to handle. Today, some of the most valuable keys to our lives and identities exist digitally, and are technically owned by companies like Google or Facebook.
For the digital assets stored on shared servers in the cloud, legal systems have yet to catch up to help decide who controls your data when you're dead. And uniform laws around control of these assets could help.