Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 8:34 am
When French peasants stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, they weren't just revolting against the monarchy's policies. They were also hungry.
From the French Revolution to the Arab Spring, high food prices have been cited as a factor behind mass protest movements. But can food prices actually help predict when social unrest is likely to break out?
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with best wishes to Felix Baumgartner. He plans to ride a balloon to an altitude of 23 miles over New Mexico and then he will step out into the void. Fearless Felix will be wearing a pressurized suit like an astronaut and expects to break the sound barrier as he falls. He's being advised by a former NASA flight surgeon who lost his wife in a shuttle crash and who wants to improve astronauts' odds of surviving a future disaster. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
During a "series of secret meetings in recent months," the White House began to "consider for the first time whether to prepare for unilateral strikes" aimed at terrorist groups operating in North Africa, The Washington Post writes this morning.
An Osprey arrives at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan city on Japan's southern island of Okinawa on Monday. Six Ospreys were deployed in Okinawa, drawing sharp reactions from residents amid persistent concerns about the aircraft's safety.
Credit Lucy Craft for NPR
Protesters block an entrance to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Japan.
A new deployment of U.S. military aircraft to Okinawa has sparked protests and reignited residents' long-simmering resentment of America's military presence there. Opponents say the vertical takeoff Osprey has a poor safety record and poses a danger to inhabitants of the densely populated Japanese island.
U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is surrounded by the city of Ginowan. At Futenma No. 2 Elementary School, 200 yards outside the base, the roar of rotor blades can be so deafening that classes can't be held without keeping heavily reinforced windows shut.
President Obama has held a lead over Mitt Romney in the polls for several weeks now, and that's prompted a conservative reaction. Some are charging that big media outlets are intentionally designing their polling to make it look like the president is getting the kind of voter surge he had in 2008. NPR's David Folkenflik has the story.
'Tis the season for new car buying. Fall is when automakers roll out their latest models - with new technologies and better fuel efficiency. And to talk about the latest trends, we reached Michelle Krebs in Detroit. She's a senior analyst at the auto information website Edmunds.com.
And here in the U.S., for retailers, the cost they pay for consumer fraud is going up. Merchants who sell their products using mobile devices or sell internationally are seeing their costs climbing higher still - almost 40 over last year.
Richard Lapointe confessed in 1989 that he stabbed, raped and killed his wife's 88-year-old grandmother two years earlier. But in the 23 years since, experts in criminal justice have come to better understand how sometimes people make false confessions — especially someone with brain damage, like Lapointe. On Monday, Connecticut's state Appellate Court ordered a new trial, saying prosecutors wrongly withheld potentially important evidence.
In this year's presidential campaign, $11 million has been spent so far on ads targeting Hispanics, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.
That's eight times the amount spent four years ago on Spanish-language ads, and it's focused in just a handful of battleground states: Florida, Nevada, Colorado and, perhaps most surprisingly, North Carolina.
Then-candidate Barack Obama speaks at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Mason City, Iowa, in 2007. Religious messages were a more prominent part of Obama's first presidential campaign.
Credit Evan Vucci / AP
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wolfeboro, N.H. The candidate regularly attends church, but he rarely invokes religion on the campaign trail.
Religion used to be everywhere in the presidential elections. George W. Bush courted conservative believers in 2004. In 2008, Sarah Palin excited evangelicals and — unexpectedly — so did Barack Obama.
What a difference a few years make. In 2007, then-candidate Obama used evangelical language to describe his Christian conversion: He was a young, secular community organizer who occasionally visited the local Chicago church, when one day he walked to the front of the sanctuary and knelt before the cross.
Housing continues to be a big issue for the economy, and for many voters. But so far it hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign. Perhaps that's because both sides agree that there's no easy fix for the problem of millions of troubled mortgages.
Cathy Busby and her husband co-owned a realty office in Denver when they bought their house in 2006. The next year, the market for houses dried up, leaving them with little income as their house lost value.
Now, she says, she considers herself "poverty level."
Beau Gunderson's fascinated by what he might learn from his DNA.
"I'm curious about what makes me tick, essentially," says Gunderson, 29, who writes code for a Silicon Valley startup.
So Gunderson has signed up for every genetic test he's been able to afford. And he can't wait for the price of getting his entire genetic code — his genome — to drop to about $1,000, as many are predicting is imminent.
"Yeah, if the price does drop — to a thousand bucks for example — I might pay that. That's a good personal price point for me," Gunderson said.
Here's how the new novel from crime writer Dennis Lehane begins: "Some years later, on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin's feet were placed in a tub of cement."
Pretty hard to stop reading after an opening line like that — at least you'd think. "It was funny, a guy came up to me the other night, and he said, 'I really loved this book once it got going,' " Lehane tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "I thought, 'Jesus Christ, read the first sentence! How much more "getting going" is it going to get?' "
This Friday marks 50 years since the release of the first James Bond film, Dr. No. Ian Fleming's Cold War-era MI6 agent has endured through 22 movies, evolving all the while to stay relevant to new audiences. The next installment is Skyfall, due out Nov. 9.
Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson are the franchise's current producers and children of the original producer, Albert "Cubby" Broccoli. NPR's David Greene spoke to them about the family business.
Supporters of legalization of cannabis in Montevideo march toward the Legislative Palace in May as part of the 2012 Global Marijuana March.
Credit Andres Stapff / Reuters/Landov
Marijuana grower and activist Juan Vaz checks a marijuana plant in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, in August. Uruguay's government has sent a bill to Congress that would allow the state to grow and sell marijuana.
Increasing drug use and narcotrafficking has made some Latin American countries among the most violent places on Earth. But tiny, progressive Uruguay, where it's always been legal to use marijuana, is leading the way with an alternative drug policy.
The government of President Jose Mujica has proposed a law that would put the state in charge of producing and selling marijuana to registered users.
New York's attorney general has sued JPMorgan Chase, alleging that a unit now owned by the banking giant fraudulently sold mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
The civil lawsuit filed Monday by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is the first to be brought by the RMBS Working Group – the task force formed by President Obama in January to pursue alleged wrongdoing at the time of the financial crisis.
The mandolinist Chris Thile, better known for his work with the bluegrass band Nickel Creek, and the novelist Junot Díaz, who won a Pulitzer for his novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, are among those awarded 2012 "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The 23 MacArthur fellows will receive $500,000 over the next five years. They are allowed to do whatever they wish with the money, whether that's continue their work or change fields.
Syrian refugees gather amid olive trees in an area controlled by the rebel Free Syrian Army, in northern Syria near the Turkish border, on Sept. 25. The area has become a way station for Syrian refugees pushed out of neighboring Turkey.
Credit Michel Moutot / AFP/Getty Images
Syrian refugees live under makeshift tents in the grounds of a school in Atme, a village controlled by the Free Syrian Army.
Long before the Syrian uprising, Antakya, Turkey, was a storied place. Once known as Antioch, the city was home to Greeks, some of the earliest Christians, Jews and Armenians. It once was a major stop on the Silk Road.
Most recently, the Turkish city became a hub for the Syrian rebellion. For many months, Turkish authorities tolerated Antakya's status, and even encouraged it. Turkey built refugee camps for tens of thousands of Syrians, and even one for officers who defected from the Syrian army to join the rebel cause.
Supporters of Cambodian journalist Mam Sonando protest outside a Phnom Penh courthouse on Monday, when judges sentenced him to 20 years in jail for leading an alleged secession movement. Critics say the pro-democracy activist's case was politically motivated.
Credit STR/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of Mam Sonando (shown here Monday after his conviction) say the pro-democracy activist drew the government's ire by trying to help farmers in eastern Kratie province protect their land. He also runs one of the few private broadcasters in the country that is critical of the government.
Credit Anthony Kuhn / NPR
Residents gather their belongings in a paddy field near Pro Ma village in eastern Cambodia's Kratie province. Farmers are being forced to move after their land was granted to a Russian agribusiness.
A court in Cambodia has convicted a prominent journalist and pro-democracy activist on charges of convincing villagers in eastern Cambodia to rise up and declare independence from the country. Civic groups say the case is part of a worrying trend of government efforts to stifle freedom of expression, and attempts to take land away from farmers.
Hundreds of supporters vented their fury outside the courthouse Monday as judges sentenced Mam Sonando to 20 years in jail. Speaking before the verdict, his wife, Dinn Phanara, says the case was politically motivated.
The cursing mommy likes her scotch. She also likes a martini — or four — and a full bottle of Kahlua consumed in the afternoon while soaking in a steaming bathtub and ignoring the knocks of her children locked outside. Along with her dubious parenting skills, the cursing mommy has no shame, and she swears an extremely blue streak.
Republicans are still within reach of a big political goal this year: retaking control of the Senate. They lost the majority in 2006, in part because of the razor-close victory of Democratic challenger Jon Tester in Montana.
Now, Tester is the incumbent facing a tough challenge of his own. And if he's going to win re-election, he has to turn out a lot of younger voters, the way he did in 2006. And on that front, he does have some allies.
Here's something President Obama and Mitt Romney agree on: America's tax system is too complicated. Both men have outlined changes that are broadly similar, but with some important differences.
Today's tax code is like a department store, where the price tags are high, but there are lots of coupons, sales and weekend specials. That creates some inequities. Just as shoppers can pay different prices depending on which day they buy, taxpayers with the same income can pay very different rates depending on which deductions they qualify for.