And now to our weekly political roundtable. David Brooks is away this week. I'm joined instead by syndicated columnist Mona Charen, who worked in the Reagan White House and as a speech writer for Jack Kemp. Mona Charen, welcome to the program.
MONA CHAREN: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: And E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution is back with us. Hi, E.J.
The fate of Texas' new voter ID law is now up to a three-judge federal panel in Washington, D.C.
Lawyers for Texas and the Justice Department wrapped up five days of arguments in U.S. District Court Friday, with each side accusing the other of using deeply "flawed" data to show whether minorities would be unfairly hurt by a photo ID requirement.
David Rowell is an editor with The Washington Post. His first novel, The Train of Small Mercies, is just out in paperback.
When I was growing up in North Carolina, my family went to the same beach every year; it had the sand, the water and pretty much nothing else. Mostly that was OK, but the idea of a boardwalk, which I caught glimpses of on TV or in movies, seemed wondrous to me — like a carnival rolled out from a wooden carpet.
In Germany, the past few weeks have been marked by an intense debate over religious liberties.
Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel jumped into the fray saying her administration would work to protect religious circumcision.
"It is absolutely clear to the federal government that we want Jewish, we want Muslim religious life in Germany. Circumcisions carried out in a responsible way must not be subject to prosecution in this country," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.
Al-Qaida has been subtly testing a new strategy. In the past couple of years, the group's affiliates have been trying their hand at governing — actually taking over territory and then trying to win over citizens who live there. It happened with various degrees of success in Somalia and Yemen, and recently in the northern deserts of Mali.
NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) have learned that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the Labor Department are putting together a team of agency experts and lawyers to specifically consider how to bolster coal mine dust enforcement given the statutory and regulatory weaknesses detailed by NPR and CPI this week in stories about the resurgence of black lung.
When McDonald's cut a deal to make itself the exclusive purveyor of french fries and the similar (but please don't say matching) chips at the 2012 Olympic Games in London later this month, it may not have anticipated the flurry of responses. Foodies raged, nutritionists nagged, and many called it another example of an American cultural takeover.
On July 20, 1958, at Tanglewood — the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra — pianist Leon Fleisher played an electrifying Brahms First Piano Concerto with the orchestra under its former music director, Pierre Monteux. This remarkable teaming has not been heard since then.
Imagine you're a movie producer, and you've got a couple of hundred million dollars to gamble on a single massive blockbuster. Which genre do you suppose will be your safest bet — superhero? Action-adventure? Sci-fi? All of those have had huge successes, but they've also all had hugely expensive failures.
There's one genre, though, that's hardly a gamble at all. It's been almost foolproof since it first came into being in 1995: computer animation.
In the absence of a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, drug treatment has at least helped lower the pandemic's toll.
Since 2003, much of the treatment dispensed in hard-hit countries has come in the form of generic versions of previously expensive drugs. The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, has paid for quite a bit of the medicine.
Mitt Romney, hearing boos at the NAACP convention, now knows what we go through each week on the podcast. President Obama, facing poor economic news, changes the subject with an assault on Romney and the GOP on taxes. Plus updates on Reps Charlie Rangel (victory), Jesse Jackson Jr. (health), Shelley Berkley (ethics) and Thad McCotter (skadoodle).
Join NPR's Ken Rudin and guest host Brian Naylor for this week's political roundup.
This interview was originally broadcast on September 19, 2011. Breaking Bad begins its fifth season on Sunday, July 15th at 10 PM EST.
Vince Gilligan's AMC drama Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who turns to dealing drugs after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. White's partner-in-crime throughout the series is his former student Jesse Pinkman, played by actor Aaron Paul.
A "not guilty" verdict has been handed down in a case that has been front-page news for months in Great Britain:
John Terry, former captain of England's national soccer team and captain of the English Premier League's Chelsea Football Club, "has been cleared of racially abusing fellow footballer Anton Ferdinand," the BBC writes.
Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 11:40 am
President Obama's decision to publicly support same-sex marriage may have changed the minds of some Americans, according to a national poll. But in states that will vote on the issue in November, the impact has been mixed.
Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:33 am
For all the chatter that the winner of the 2012 presidential election will be determined by the economy, you wouldn't know it by looking at the most closely contested states.
The recovery is still tepid in most parts of the country, and there's a sense of trepidation that signs of improvement might not last. Among the swing states, some are doing comparatively well while others are struggling — but the political picture looks roughly the same in all.
The reporter who last year broke the news that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had been accused of sexually abusing young boys today helps answer some very interesting questions:
The largest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase, this morning released its second quarter results. It's net income was $5 billion, but it turns out that loses in a failed hedging strategy involving a secretive trader were much higher than what the bank originally said the loss would be. In fact, JPMorgan lost $4.4 billion last quarter on those risky trades.
As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, that's not the full extent of the firm's damage.
The grim numbers vary and independent observers haven't yet been able to get to the scene. But there's word from Syria of what may be the single worst day of bloodshed so far in what's become a long line of such horrible events since protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad began in March 2011:
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. People in Beirut are sick of political protests across the country. Protesters have been blocking highways with burning tires. So there was only one thing to do. Yesterday, they held a protest using tires against protests using tires. Instead of burning the tires in the street, they painted the tires many colors. The protesters held up signs reading: We are tired. And a police officer refused to ticket them, saying, their tires are pretty. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.