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Around the Nation
1:47 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Why N.Y. Mets Should Avoid Donning Santa's Suit

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:02 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm David Greene.

Here's why most New York Mets avoid standing-in for Santa at the team holiday party. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Santa suit is cursed. Consider these former Santa Mets: Center-fielder Mike Cameron got badly injured, right-fielder Jeff Francoeur was traded, pitcher John Maine, career tanked. The list stretches back a decade.

Around the Nation
12:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Fla. School To Change Name Tied To Ku Klux Klan Leader

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:02 am

A school board in Jacksonville, Fla., has decided that one of its schools should no longer be named after Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was also a general in the Civil War. Nathan Bedford Forrest High School received its name in the 1950s, and for decades the decision has been debated.

Europe
12:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Protesters In Ukraine Agitated By Economic Deal With Russia

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:02 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yesterday, Ukraine got a big holiday present from its neighbor, Russia, in the form of a multi-billion dollar bailout. And now everyone is trying to figure out what strings Russia attached, and whether this could be a sign that Ukraine, a country of some 45 million people, is aligning itself more closely with the East than the West.

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NPR Story
12:28 am
Wed December 18, 2013

British Monetary Officials Announce Changes

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:09 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And changes may be brewing when it comes to another old tradition in Europe: the British pound. Our last word in business is: new currency.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The Bank of England will begin circulating plastic money in 2016, polymer versions of the paper bank notes Britons have used for more than three centuries.

GREENE: Bank officials say the currency should last longer and be harder to counterfeit.

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NPR Story
12:28 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Virtual Currency Bitcoin Drops In Value

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:02 am

The tumble is due in part to China's central bank which had issued a warning about the currency.

NPR Story
11:54 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Religious Groups Challenge Calif. Transgender Law Over Privacy

High school senior Pat Cordova-Goff would be allowed to use the girls' bathroom under a California law slated to go into effect next year. The law's critics call it the "co-ed bathroom bill."
Courtesy of Pat Cordova-Goff

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:14 am

A coalition of churches and religious groups are trying to overturn a California law that aims to accommodate transgender students.

The law, slated to go into effect next year, allows students to use the restrooms and participate on the sports teams of their gender identity rather than their biological sex. But those who oppose the law see it as a threat to students' privacy.

'Nowhere To Go'

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NPR Story
11:54 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Want More Holiday Music? Ring Up Dial-A-Carol

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:02 am

Missing the Christmas spirit? Dial-a-Carol may help you get into the holiday mood.

NPR Story
11:54 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Fed's Final 2013 Meeting Could Indicate Course For Early 2014

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:02 am

Federal Reserve officials end a two-day meeting on Wednesday amid signs that the U.S. economy is slowly mending. David Greene talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the Fed's last meeting of the year.

The Salt
10:05 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Is A 500-Year-Old German Beer Law Heritage Worth Honoring?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:56 am

Germans are serious about their beer. Serious enough for the European country's main brewers association to urge the United Nations to recognize that fact.

The brewers association wants a five-century-old law governing how German beer is made to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. It would join the Argentinian tango, Iranian carpet weaving and French gastronomy, among other famous traditions, that are considered unique and worth protecting.

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All Tech Considered
10:04 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What It's Like To Live On Low Pay In A Land Of Plenty

Manny Cardenas, seen here with his 5-year-old daughter Zoe, has earned $16 an hour as a part-time security guard at Google.
Laura Sydell NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:11 am

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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Around the Nation
10:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

A 'Tale Of Two Cities' As Detroit Looks To 2014

Detroit's Midtown neighborhood is reviving in the midst of the larger city's decline.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:13 am

The streets outside Avalon Bakery in Detroit's Midtown are a snowy, slushy, mostly unplowed mess, and all these customers want to do is pay for their loaf of Motown Multigrain or Poletown Rye.

But Detroiters are a gracious, if weary, bunch. So when they see yet another reporter sticking a microphone in their faces, asking what they think of all this media attention, they answer politely.

And even if they're not always crazy about the way their city is portrayed, no one argues with the fact that Detroit had a newsworthy year.

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Sweetness And Light
10:01 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why The American Dream Is Still Alive In Sports

Wesley Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers goes up for the shot as Philadelphia 76ers defend the basket on Saturday in Philadelphia.
Chris Szagola AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:02 am

Political innocent I may be, but I find great irony in that, while everybody agrees there is massive inequality in the United States today, it's in sports where the American dream still lives — more than ever.

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The Salt
9:58 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Amid Fields Of Plenty, A Farmworker's Wife Struggles To Feed Her Family

Food banks have become a primary source of nutrition for rural farmworker communities in the Central Valley.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 5:25 am

California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive farm regions in the world. But many farmworkers struggle to feed their families fresh and healthy food because they can't afford to buy the produce that grows all around them.

The Ortiz family in Raisin City, Calif., faces this very problem.

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It's All Politics
1:15 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Red State Retirement Takes Democratic House Seat Out Of Play

Utah Rep. Jim Matheson delivers a speech in October 2012. The veteran Democrat says he'll retire at the end of his seventh term.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 2:57 pm

Rep. Jim Matheson announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his term, providing Republicans with a likely House seat pickup in 2014.

With a tough re-election fight looming in his conservative Salt Lake City-area district, the Utah Democrat decided against seeking another term in the House.

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Shots - Health News
12:40 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why Glaxo Won't Pay Doctors To Sell Its Drugs Anymore

British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline is pledging to revamp its relationships with doctors.
Sang Tan AP

Doctors talking up drugs to other doctors has been quite lucrative for pharmaceutical companies — and the physicians who moonlight as their salesmen.

Drugmakers learned long ago that deputized doctors were effective pitchmen. A doctor paid by a company to give a dinner speech or to chat over lunch with colleagues can go a long way toward changing their prescribing habits.

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All Tech Considered
12:38 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How This Bay Area Tech Boom's Different From The Last One

San Francisco's median home price hit $1 million this year.
Patrick Shyu Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 4:22 pm

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:37 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

NASA Orders Spacewalks To Fix Faulty Pump On Orbiting Station

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio in the International Space Station's Columbus lab last month.
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 3:00 pm

NASA has decided to go ahead with a series of spacewalks to fix a broken cooling system aboard the International Space Station.

The decision was made Tuesday by station managers. They said the extra-vehicular activity should take place as soon as possible to replace a coolant pump that contains a bad valve.

The Associated Press says:

"The spacewalks are taking priority over the launch of a supply ship from Virginia. The delivery had been scheduled for this week, but is now delayed until January."

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Number Of The Year
12:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

A Majority In U.S. Favor Legal Pot, But Will That Stick?

Partiers celebrate marijuana legalization in Washington state at a pot party in Seattle earlier this month.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 8:49 pm

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. They're numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we live in.

This year, for the first time, national polls show a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Gallup has been asking the question for four decades, and now it says 58 percent favor legalization.

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20 Years Of NAFTA
12:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Has NAFTA Meant For Workers? That Debate's Still Raging

An auto worker tightens bolts on a Focus at a Ford plant in Michigan in October. Labor unions predicted in 1993 that NAFTA would send many U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico, and they continue to argue that the pact prompted a race to the bottom for workers.
Mira Oberman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:31 pm

Two decades ago, the strongest critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement were members of labor unions. They warned that the trade deal would mean the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and lower wages for U.S. workers.

Today, 20 years since NAFTA's passage, unions feel as strongly as ever that the deal was a bad idea.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:23 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Angela Merkel Is Sworn In For Third Term As Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a ceremony in which German President Joachim Gauck appointed the new German government cabinet on Tuesday in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry Getty Images

After months of negotiations to create a grand coalition, Angela Merkel was sworn in by Parliament on Tuesday to serve a third term as chancellor.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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The Two-Way
11:36 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Russia Throws Ukraine Financial Lifeline Amid Popular Unrest

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) listens to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday.
Yuri Kochetkov EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 1:05 am

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports that Russia has agreed to a massive bailout package for Ukraine, a deal that could keep the country from bankruptcy next year – but the deal has outraged the political opposition which has protested closer ties with Moscow.

As we reported on Monday, the deal is aimed at keeping the cash-strapped former Soviet republic in the Russian sphere of influence.

Flintoff reports:

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Shots - Health News
11:23 am
Tue December 17, 2013

How The U.S. Helped Fight The Global AIDS Epidemic

A mother waits with her child at an HIV clinic in Nyagasambu, Rwanda, in February 2008. The clinic was built with a grant from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief initiative.
Shashank Bengali MCT /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 3:50 am

A decade ago, President George W. Bush announced an unprecedented global health initiative: $15 billion over five years to fight HIV in developing countries.

"There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection," Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address. "Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims — only 50,000 — are receiving the medicine they need."

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Sports
11:22 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Some Competitors Say Free-Diving Needs A Safety Sea Change

Nicholas Mevoli smiles while diving in Curacao in October. He died a month later following an attempted dive in a free-diving competition in the Bahamas.
Daan Verhoeven Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:31 pm

Dahab, Egypt, just north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, is perfect for free-diving. A diver can have tea in a simple beach cafe and then take just a handful of steps into the Gulf of Aqaba, where the seafloor plunges more than 100 yards into a wine-glass-shaped blue hole.

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All Tech Considered
11:20 am
Tue December 17, 2013

In A Divided San Francisco, Private Tech Buses Drive Tension

Protesters in San Francisco block a Google bus, which shuttles employees from the city to its location in Silicon Valley.
cjmartin Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:31 pm

Part of a series on income inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you want to understand the tension between tech workers in San Francisco, who often make six figures, and many of the city's other residents, try standing on the southwest corner of 24th Street and Valencia around 7:30 on a weekday morning.

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Movie Interviews
11:20 am
Tue December 17, 2013

From 'Crash Reel' To Recovery, And Everything In Between

Snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a severe brain injury after an accident on the halfpipe in 2009. His road to recovery is the subject of director Lucy Walker's documentary The Crash Reel.
Christian Stadler HBO Pictures

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:31 pm

In 2009, snowboarder Kevin Pearce was riding high, soaring skyward, twisting his body into breathtaking acrobatics. He was 22, one of the world's top halfpipe riders, and a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team for the 2010 Vancouver Games.

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NPR Story
11:20 am
Tue December 17, 2013

GlaxoSmithKline To Stop Paying Doctors To Promote Its Drugs

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 7:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today, one of the biggest drug companies in the world announced changes to its marketing practices. GlaxoSmithKline says the idea is to be more transparent about how it sells its drugs. Among the changes, the company will stop paying doctors to tout its products to other doctors.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the public interest community says this is a step in the right direction for an industry that's faced many legal problems.

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It's All Politics
10:47 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Bridge Controversy Could Take Toll On Chris Christie's Future

The George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., on Sept. 2, just days before lanes were closed under mysterious circumstances.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 12:17 pm

Were access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, the nation's busiest span, closed as political retribution against a mayor who didn't publicly endorse New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's re-election?

The governor denies that politics played a role in the traffic-snarling decision, but the controversy has put an ever-growing stain on Christie's glossy November re-election victory. And the episode could have an impact on Christie's White House ambitions.

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The Two-Way
10:05 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Pope Francis Shakes Up Important Congregation For Bishops

Bishop Raymond Leo Burke.
Anonymous ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pope Francis continues to shake up the Vatican establishment. This time, in what observers are calling a major move, he reshuffled the membership of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most important organizations in the Vatican.

In the biggest shakeup announced on Monday, Francis removed Cardinal Raymond L. Burke from the group and replaced him with another American, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C..

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It's All Politics
9:37 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Obama's Year Of Disappointing The Liberal Base

President Obama talks about drones and national security earlier this year at the National Defense University in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:56 am

It's been a long, disappointing year for many of President Obama's most ardent supporters.

From drones and Syria to immigration and the Keystone XL pipeline, the list of issues on which the president has induced frustration and disillusionment is not a short one.

And fallout from that restive base is reflected in Obama's dismal year-end poll numbers.

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Shots - Health News
9:08 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Concussion Research Slowed By Shortage Of Donated Brains

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher's body has been exhumed more than a year after he killed his girlfriend and himself so that his brain can be examined for signs of a degenerative condition linked to repeated concussions.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:08 am

Former NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher's body was exhumed last week so doctors can perform tests on the remains of his brain. The family hopes to find out if a degenerative brain disease played a role in Kansas City Chiefs veteran's death last year, when he shot his girlfriend then killed himself.

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