Last year's drought wreaked havoc on farmers' fields in much of the Midwest, cutting crop yields and forcing livestock producers to cull their herds. This spring, the rain that farmers needed so badly in 2012 has finally returned. But maybe too much, and at the wrong time.
It's almost the end of April, which is prime time to plant corn. But farmers need a break in the rain so they can get this year's crops in the ground and try to lock in good yields at harvest.
It's 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night, and Bassem Youssef's show is on TV screens at cafes throughout downtown Cairo.
It's the Egyptian political satirist's first show since he was summoned to the prosecutor general's office to answer questions about the jokes he makes on TV. After the interrogation, he was released on about $2,200 bail.
On this night, the show opens with a joke about Youssef himself.
Much of our coffee comes from places where the environment is endangered and workers earn very little — sometimes, just a few dollars for a whole day's work. Coffee farmers have helped cut down tropical forests, and most of them use pesticides.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
Mysterious new developments in Mississippi today in the case of poisoned letters sent to President Obama, a U.S. Senator and a Mississippi judge. Federal authorities are dropping charges against a man arrested last week in connection with the case.
NPR's Debbie Elliott has an update for us. And, Debbie, to start, the initial suspect, Paul Kevin Curtis, is actually free tonight. What happened in this case?
Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 9:02 am
Blame shifting was in high gear Tuesday on Capitol Hill and at the White House as the first air traffic delays tied to the furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration controllers began to get attention.
The Republicans' message: Delays at some airports this week — a result of automatic spending cuts known as the sequester that took effect in March, but whose resulting furloughs are just kicking in — was a "manufactured crisis," and that the administration wants voters angry enough to force Congress to give President Obama the higher taxes he seeks.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a longtime legal resident of the United States was improperly deported for possession of a small amount of marijuana. By a 7-2 vote, the justices said that it defies common sense to treat an offense like this as an "aggravated felony" justifying mandatory deportation.
As Congress continues its debate over immigration reform, nearly a half-million young people who are in the U.S. illegally have already applied for deferred action.
The Obama administration started the policy, formally known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, last year for people who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children. Those who are approved gain the right to work or study and avoid deportation for two years.
As investigators look into the Boston Marathon bombings, one crucial question is whether the suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, acted alone or had help. The clues might be found in the bombs used.
From what is now known, it appears the brothers assembled a whole arsenal of explosives. Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau told CNN last weekend that the suspects had at least six bombs, including the two used in the attack and one thrown at police during a shootout.
More online retailers would have to collect sales tax under a bill making its way through the U.S. Senate this week. The measure won strong bipartisan backing on a procedural vote Monday, and President Obama has said he would sign it.
The political battle over the bill pits online retailers against brick-and-mortar stores — and, in some cases, against other online sellers.
It's easy to feel dispirited about climate change because the challenge of dealing with it seems so overwhelming. But Miguel Modestino is actually excited about the challenge. He's part of a large team hoping to make an artificial leaf — a device that would make motor fuel from sunlight and carbon dioxide rather than from fossil fuels.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye Monday, part of a visit to build business ties and boost nuclear energy plans. But it was the handshake they shared that created the biggest stir in Korean society, after Gates greeted Park with a smile — and his left hand jammed into his pants pocket.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden in Washington. Neal Conan is away. Accusations that the Syrian government has repeatedly used chemical weapons against its own people are piling up. First were British and French officials who say they have credible evidence. Today, an Israeli military official joined the chorus.
The U.S. says it's evaluating the allegations. The stakes are high. Last year the Obama administration said the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer that could provoke a stronger U.S. response.
Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 2:32 pm
Nutrition labeling has been required on packaged food since 1990, and the new federal food safety law will require calorie counts to be posted for restaurant food — all in an effort to get the American public to eat healthier.
But most studies on calorie count labels show they don't do much to nudge people toward better food choices. If I want that oh-so-delicious Chunky Monkey ice cream, knowing that a half-cup serving delivers 300 calories and 18 grams of fat isn't going to stop me.
Allan Arbus, best known for his recurring role as psychiatrist Sidney Freedman on the hit television comedy M.A.S.H., has died at age 95, his family says.
Arbus died Friday due to congestive heart failure, his daughter said in a statement. His second wife, Mariclare Costello Arbus, told Reuters that her husband "just got weaker and weaker and was at home with his daughter and me" when he passed away.
At the famous Hippodrome de Longchamp just outside of Paris this month, crowds came to cheer and bet on the sleek thoroughbreds that opened horse racing season by galloping down the verdant turf course.
Horse racing in Europe is different from the sport in the U.S., from the shape and surface of the track to race distances and the season itself. Another big difference is doping.
Footage from surveillance cameras along the Boston Marathon route gave the FBI early clues about the bombing suspects. And prosecutors say they'll use some of those images to try to prove their criminal case against 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But the proliferation of cameras in America's big cities is raising some tricky questions about the balance between security and privacy.
It was pictures of two brothers taken by a camera outside the Lord & Taylor department store that provided the first glimpse of the men who allegedly bombed the Boston Marathon.
We've heard any number of remembrances today of legendary folk singer Richie Havens. He died yesterday of a heart attack. He was 72. The Brooklyn-born singer is perhaps best known as the opening act at Woodstock, for his unorthodox guitar style and his message of peace that helped define a generation. In 2004, Havens talked with Neal Conan on this program around the release of his album, "Grace of the Sun." We thought the most fitting way to remember Havens on this day is to let you hear from the man himself.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden in Washington. Neal Conan is away. When the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, exploded last week, many of the first responders on the scene were volunteer firefighters, and they make up most of the 14 known victims so far.
Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 5:40 pm
Update at 6:02 p.m. ET. Charges Dropped:
Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a Mississippi man they accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and two other public servants, according to a court order obtained by the AP.
"In a court order calling for the charges to be dismissed, prosecutors said the 'ongoing investigation has revealed new information' without providing any additional detail," Reuters reports.
Paul Kevin Curtis was released from custody earlier Tuesday.
Though they told him he wouldn't be hurt, the man who was allegedly forced by the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings to hand over his SUV and go with them says he was convinced the gunmen would "kill me later."
Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 3:40 pm
Some 93 percent of Americans saw their mean net worth fall in the first two years of the post-recession recovery, while the remaining 7 percent increased net worth by nearly a third, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.
Following the Republican Party's losses in the 2012 elections, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about what the party should do to improve its electoral fortunes.
Some argue that the GOP should moderate its positions on social issues, as well as policies that affect income inequality and social mobility, and that it should embrace compromise as a way to attract more voters. But others say that changing its positions risks alienating the core Republican base and diluting the party's conservative message — doing more damage in the end.
Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 12:10 pm
A federal court has approved a settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and Anheuser-Busch InBev that will allow the mammoth beer company to complete its purchase of Grupo Modelo, a Mexico-based brewer that produces Corona, Pacifico and other beers.
The deal, which requires AB InBev to sell all of Modelo's U.S. business, clears the way for the $20.1 billion acquisition of the remaining portion of Modelo that AB InBev did not yet own. Terms of the deal were announced Friday.