NPR News

Romney Says No To Super PAC Smear Campaign

May 18, 2012

Mitt Romney releases his first general election campaign ad. Plus wealthy GOP investors say their super PAC won't run a smear campaign connecting controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright with President Obama. Host Michel Martin discusses the latest political developments with Lenny McAllister of Politic365.com and author Michael Fauntroy.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, leaders of the G8 - that's the group of eight highly industrialized nations - are meeting at Camp David this weekend, but they're also joined by the leaders of some emerging African countries who will discuss the issue of food security on the continent. We'll talk more about that in a few minutes.

Why Does Hunger Still Exist In Africa?

May 18, 2012

Some of the world's fastest growing economies are in Africa. But hunger is still a widespread reality there, and will be a major topic at this weekend's G8 summit. Host Michel Martin discusses efforts to fight hunger on the continent with USAIDs Tjada McKenna and Mwiza Munthali of the advocacy group TransAfrica.

Journalists have spent many days and millions of words hashing over the news that banking giant JPMorgan Chase lost billions of dollars trading "synthetic" derivatives.

I am one of those journalists who, more or less, can understand what the bank says it was trying to do, i.e., hedge against loan losses. But here's what I have a hard time explaining:

What does this kind of complex trading have to do with the price of eggs?

We'd seen the video of the world-record paper airplane toss — 226 feet, 10 inches.

Trash Can May Be Greenest Option For Unused Drugs

May 18, 2012

American homes are filled with unused prescription drugs. Each year we squirrel away 200 million pounds of pharmaceuticals we don't need anymore, according to some estimates.

Update at 1:17 p.m. ET. Support Afghanistan In 'Different Way':

During their meeting in the White House, President Francois Hollande, the new socialist leader of France, said he told President Obama that he was committed to withdrawing French troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

But, the AP reports, Hollande said he was committed to supporting Afghanistan in a "different way."

This was Obama's first meeting with Hollande.

The two leaders also said they wanted Greece to remain a part the European monetary union.

Before President Obama welcomes world leaders to Camp David and Chicago, new French President Francoise Hollande is expected to say he wants his nation's 3,300 troops home from Afghanistan by year's end. That could upset other NATO nations.

Among the key things to know about what's in the hundreds of pages of evidence and other materials related to the Feb. 26 shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, which were released Thursday:

Despite all the chaos and misery of the Greek debt crisis, the country still has some major assets: It's a stunningly beautiful place, with sunny weather, great beaches, ancient marvels and modern amenities.

Greece has been attracting visitors for centuries — at least since Darius the Great led an unsuccessful Persian military package tour about 2,500 years ago.

That didn't work out so well for Darius, who was defeated at the Battle of Marathon.

Facebook's much-publicized first sale of stock to the public started with a bang late this morning as the price per share jumped. But though the volume of shares sold was a record for an initial public offering, the stock's price gave up its gains as the day continued.

By the end of trading in the U.S., Facebook had settled right at the $38 initial offering price that had been set before shares went on sale.

Police Wait For Thief To Release His Loot

May 18, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Sudents Suspended Over Post-It Note Prank

May 18, 2012

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Greece keeps cutting its budget to help pay debts and avoid default but then its economy keeps contracting, making the problem worse. The new French President Francois Hollande wants to find a way to stimulate Europe's economy.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Americans now have a little more information on which to base their debate about Trayvon Martin. The teenager's killing in Florida - where he was shot by a man named George Zimmerman - prompted an intense and politically charged national discussion about violence, about gun laws and about race.

The Last Word In Business

May 18, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And today's last word in business is: free flight - to somewhere less exotic than Nepal.

Mitt Romney is disavowing a plan by some wealthy Republicans to attack President Obama for ties to his controversial former pastor. Even the people behind that proposal said they are abandoning it after their idea was plastered on the front page of The New York Times.

The proposal centered on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who was a mentor to Obama before the two parted ways during the last presidential campaign.

Republicans unaffiliated with Romney were considering spending $10 million on a racially tinged advertising campaign tying Wright to the president.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's get a sneak preview, now, of a coming attraction.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BELOVED OTTER-COLORED HORSE")

INSKEEP: Mongolia is the land of Genghis Khan and nomadic herders.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHEEP)

INSKEEP: And it's also now riding a mining boom.

(SOUNDBITE OF INDUSTRIAL CRASH AND HORNS)

INSKEEP: All next week, NPR's Frank Langfitt takes us to Mongolia where the rush to extract mineral resources is transforming a nomadic culture.

Hewlett-Packard Set To Layoff 30,000 People

May 18, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with layoffs at HP.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Technology giant Hewlett-Packard is poised to eliminate as many as 30,000 jobs worldwide. These cuts, though, will reportedly spare China - the company's largest source of growth, as well as its research and development divisions.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The head of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, has gotten an invitation to testify in front of the Senate Banking Committee about his bank's recent trading loss of at least $2 billion.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Dimon is very much the public face of his firm. In a Wall Street culture where banks are defined as much by the executives who run them is by the assets they hold. So, what kind of culture led to the multibillion dollar losses at JPMorgan Chase?

Would that big, bad JPMorgan Chase trade have violated the Volcker Rule?

It's too soon to say, despite the fact that the rule is part of a two-year-old law.

The Volcker Rule bans deposit-taking banks from making speculative bets. But it allows banks to make investments to hedge risks.

The Obama administration is announcing a major new initiative to boost investments in rural Africa in hopes of lifting millions out of poverty. Several African leaders are in Washington, D.C., for the announcement, which comes as President Obama hosts leaders of the Group of Eight in Maryland. Food security is a key agenda item.

When Terry Walls of Springfield, Mo., decided to go back to college at age 52, he wanted to put to rest a family rumor. He had heard his mother was denied admission to Missouri State University, and he was pointed toward Meyer Library on the MSU campus for answers.

There, he discovered an eloquent letter typed on fragile, onion-skin paper and signed with his mother's maiden name: Mary Jean Price. It was dated Oct. 2, 1950, and it was addressed to the university registrar:

For many people, Bike to Work Day (which is today) is a reason to put air in their bike's tires and see if their chain is too rusty to get them to work on time. And as a growing list of photographs shows, many people who follow NPR online also ride to work.

A private spaceship owned by a company called SpaceX is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida early Saturday morning.

If all goes well, the unmanned capsule will rocket up on a mission to deliver food and other supplies to the International Space Station, becoming the first commercial spacecraft to visit the outpost.

The highly anticipated mission could mark the beginning of what some say could be a new era in spaceflight, with private companies operating taxi services that could start taking people to orbit in just a few years.

Van Harris and his wife, Shirley, grew up in the same Brooklyn neighborhood. They lived about a block away from each other. At StoryCorps, they talked of how they first met — 75 years ago.

Van, 87, recalls the day that he first noticed Shirley, 85.

"I met her when she was about 10 years old, and she was beating up a couple of guys," he says. "The boys had taken her hat off her head, and they were tossing it around."

Shirley kept asking the boys to give her hat back, but they wouldn't do it.

The prosecution's star witness underwent a withering cross-examination on Thursday at Roger Clemens' perjury trial. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with lying to Congress when he testified that he never used performance-enhancing drugs. Brian McNamee, his one-time trainer, is the only witness who has firsthand evidence that contradicts the baseball-pitching ace.

Earlier this week, guided by the prosecution, McNamee testified in agonizing and repetitive detail about how he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone between 1998 and 2001.

Documents have been released in the investigation of George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot Martin, an unarmed teen. He's claiming self-defense. Robert Siegel talks to Greg Allen.

From WHYY

A new law in Pennsylvania has doctors nervous.

The law grants physicians access to information about trade-secret chemicals used in natural gas drilling. Doctors say they need to know what's in those formulas in order to treat patients who may have been exposed to the chemicals.

But the new law also says that doctors can't tell anyone else — not even other doctors — what's in those formulas. It's being called the "doctor gag rule."

'I Don't Know If It's Due To Exposure'

A huge trove of documents has been released by prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin case. Among the biggest revelations so far is that the autopsy reveals Martin had THC in his system. But police said the shooting was "ultimately avoidable."

ABC News, which is digging through the documents, reports:

"The autopsy report shows traces of the drug THC, which is found in marijuana, in Martin's blood and urine.

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