Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with a reminder that guns don't kill people, dental floss kills people. Jail inmates in Westchester County, New York have sued the county for $500 million because they want to be issued dental floss. The county is reluctant, saying prisoners elsewhere have used floss as a weapon. They've also used it to escape, weaving ropes out of braided floss or even using toothpaste-coated floss to cut very slowly through cell bars. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
With 13 days left until the Nov. 6 election, President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, both included trips to Iowa and Nevada on their schedules. Each tried to fire up his supporters and cast doubts about the other to gain an advantage in a race that appears essentially tied.
At rallies in Davenport, Iowa, and Denver, both swing states where the election is fluid, Obama trotted out attack lines he's used in recent days against the former Massachusetts governor.
The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan filed a lawsuit today that alleges Bank of America Corp. cost American taxpayers more than $1 billion when it sold toxic mortgages — originally issued by Countrywide Financial — to the government controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
NPR's Margot Adler explains it like this to our Newscast unit:
"U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara described the conduct of Countrywide as 'spectacularly brazen in scope.'
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 4:06 pm
We almost brought you news today about a study that appeared to raise some troubling questions about aspartame, the popular sugar substitute found in many common foods like diet soda. Note the key word — almost.
A study due to be published at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and released to reporters earlier in the week under embargo found some correlation between drinking diet soda and an increased risk of leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as a few other rare blood-related cancers.
There is a remarkable change going on in Mogadishu, Somalia — often dubbed the world's most dangerous city. For starters, it may not deserve that title anymore.
Last year, African Union forces drove the Islamist militant group al-Shabab out of Mogadishu. Now, Somalia has a new president and prime minister who have replaced the corrupt and unpopular transitional government.
Hope is edging aside despair, and Mogadishu is coming back to life.
In Detroit, Tigers fans are preparing for the return of their beloved team to the grand stage of the World Series. In a city largely known for hard times these days, the World Series means far more than just a chance at a championship.
Facing high unemployment and crime rates and teetering on the edge of financial collapse, Detroit needs something to celebrate. Maybe something along the lines of the celebration that broke out after the Tigers won the World Series again in 1968.
Marijuana legalization is back on the ballot this year. California voters defeated a legalization proposal in 2010, but now similar measures have cropped up in three more Western states. This time around, some of the most intense opposition is coming from the earlier pioneers of legalization — the medical marijuana industry.
A school of manini fish passes over a coral reef at Hanauma Bay in 2005, in Honolulu. Researchers say schooling behavior like the kind seen in fish helps groups of animals make better decisions than any one member of the group could.
Credit Donald Miralle / Getty Images
A large flock of starlings flies over a park at sunset in Algiers, Algeria, in 2006. Millions of birds migrate every year, arriving from Europe and crossing into Africa.
As part of NPR's coverage of this year's presidential election, All Things Considered asked three science reporters to weigh in on the race. The result is a three-part series on the science of leadership. In Part 1, Alix Spiegel looked at the personalities of American presidents.
Voters could learn some things about choosing a leader from a fish. Or a chimp. Or an elephant.
Food appears so often and takes on so much importance in Jami Attenberg's novel The Middlesteins, that while reading it I sometimes felt like I was on a kind of literary cruise ship. But excess isn't presented here wantonly; instead, it's laid out and explored with sympathy, thought and depth. Early on, the parents of the main character think, "Food was made of love, and was what made love, and they could never deny themselves a bite of anything they desired." And so the novel takes off from the evocative starting point known as appetite.
Originally published on Thu October 25, 2012 8:47 am
The Texas attorney general is warning international election observers not to mess with Texas.
"Your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that Voter ID laws are constitutional," Greg Abbott wrote in a letter sent to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors elections across the world.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 1:46 pm
Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., was charged Wednesday by Florida authorities with alleged ethics violations while he was in the state Legislature, perhaps imperiling his bid for re-election to the House in an already tight contest.
Tom Wolfe wrote his new novel, Back to Blood, entirely by hand. But the author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities also says that wasn't entirely by choice — he'd rather have used a typewriter.
"Unfortunately, you can't keep typewriters going today — you have to take the ribbons back to be re-inked," Wolfe tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "There's a horrible search to try to find missing parts."
Freezing women's eggs to treat infertility is no longer an experimental procedure, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Still, the procedure remains costly and controversial and many questions remain about the effectiveness and safety of using long-term egg-freezing.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. First the Democratic debacle in the Denver debate, then a show of teeth in Tennessee, last week hells-a-poppin' at Hofstra, and this week a comparative Kumbaya in Boca. It's Wednesday and time for a...
Geneticist reported Wednesday that they had crossed a threshold long considered off-limits: They have made changes in human DNA that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
The researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland say they took the step to try to prevent women from giving birth to babies with genetic diseases. But the research is raising a host of ethical, social and moral questions.
Stephen Colbert loves music and loves to sing. That's why Fresh Air's Terry Gross asked him to bring a few songs that mean a lot to him and tell her why. For example, as a kid, Colbert discovered his first lesson about character acting through "King Herod's Song" from Jesus Christ Superstar, even though he thought the words were scandalous at first: "Oh, so you are the Christ? You're the great Jesus Christ. Prove to me that you're no fool. Walk across my swimming pool."
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 12:33 pm
Inspired by a fellow referee who was sick with cancer, high school football ref Mike Wilmoth dropped 25 pounds, ignored the naysayers, and was picked to officiate a total of six NFL games. Wilmoth talks about making it to the big leagues and the challenges of working as a replacement ref.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 4:23 pm
In coming months, Congress will begin an epic struggle to get the federal budget deficit under control. One tax break almost certain to come into play is the mortgage interest deduction.
Both President Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, have suggested ways to scale back the deduction's value for wealthy taxpayers. And many economists are cheering them on, saying that now — when interest rates are low — would be a great time to reduce or even phase out the deduction.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 11:35 am
Pundits and prognosticators have long opined about President Obama's built-in advantages in Nevada, where he captured more than 55 percent of the vote in 2008. And with good reason.
Democrats have a commanding voter registration lead, including among Latinos, and Obama's on-the-ground effort is fueled by the 55,000-member Culinary Union and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's formidable state party organization.