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Afghanistan
1:09 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Afghan Announcements Annoy U.S., Hurt Relations

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, shown here during a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kabul last month, has become increasingly combative toward the U.S. recently.
Massoud Hossaini AFP/Getty Images

U.S.-Pakistan ties are virtually frozen. And now, relations between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Washington are once again getting frosty.

Over the weekend Karzai surprised the Americans with the demand that the largest U.S.-run prison be turned over to Afghan control much sooner that planned.

It's the latest in a series of announcements by the Afghan government that sometimes appear designed to embarrass and annoy U.S. officials, as well as complicate American plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

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It's All Politics
1:05 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Sign The End Is Nigh For Huntsman? In Hypothetical, Colbert Beats Him In S.C.

Stephen Colbert.
Scott Gries PictureGroup

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 1:34 pm

After a third-place finish in New Hampshire, the state he poured his heart and soul into and placed all his bets on, Jon Huntsman doesn't need any more bad news. Just a cursory look at the headlines, and you find they're mostly talking about the end. Even the Christian Science Monitor doesn't mince words, asking, "Is Jon Huntsman toast?"

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Shots - Health Blog
1:05 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Do Nicotine Patches And Gum Help Smokers Quit?

There are new questions about the value of nicotine patches and gum in helping people quit smoking.
Patrik Stollarz AFP/Getty Images

Nicotine patches and gums have been helping smokers quit for decades. Right?

Even President Obama, once the Smoker in Chief, has kicked the habit with the help of nicotine replacement therapy, according to his doctor's latest report.

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Middle East
1:04 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Death Of Iranian Nuclear Expert Adds To Tensions

Iranian security forces inspect the site where a magnetic bomb attached to a car by a motorcyclist exploded outside a university in Tehran on Jan. 11, 2012, killing nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan.
Sajad Safari AFP/Getty Images

An explosion in Tehran Wednesday killed an Iranian nuclear scientist while he was driving his car. It's the fifth such death in five years, and Iranian officials immediately blamed Israel. The attack is the latest manifestation of escalating tensions between Iran and the West.

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Latin America
12:59 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Pope To Visit Cuba To Endorse Church's Growing Role

Pope Benedict XVI will travel in March to Cuba, where he's expected to endorse the growing dialogue between the church and the state. Here, an employee from the Rome's Biopark zoo holds a rare Cuban crocodile Wednesday, as he meets the pontiff at the Vatican. The crocodile will be returned to Cuba around the time the pope visits the island.
Osservatore Romano AP

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 3:59 pm

When Pope Benedict XVI goes to Latin America in March, Mexico is an obvious choice, with nearly 100 million Catholics.

But communist-run Cuba is also on his itinerary. The 84-year-old pontiff does not travel often, and this leg of his trip will be a strong show of support for Cuba's church leaders and their growing role in pushing President Raul Castro's government for change.

More than anywhere else in Cuba, the Santa Rita church in Havana's Miramar district is the place where religion and politics intersect.

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Election 2012
12:51 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Election 2012 Moves On, And America Yawns

A man walks past campaign workers touting their candidates during voting in the New Hampshire primary, at Webster Elementary School in Manchester on Tuesday.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 8:45 am

Tuesday was an exciting night for Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. In mid-Ohio, not so much.

By about 9 a.m. Wednesday, the bankruptcy of a local barbecue restaurant chain was one of several stories ranked higher in the "most popular stories" list on The Columbus Dispatch's website than anything coming out of the GOP primary.

For many people, the election so far just hasn't been that interesting — and it might be even less so if Romney again rakes in the chips in South Carolina next week, adding to the perception that his nomination is virtually a done deal.

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All Tech Considered
12:48 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Man And Machines: Beyond Touch

A demonstration of Oblong's g‑speak SOE (spatial operating environment), technology that was featured in the film Minority Report.
oblong.com

Computer chips and technology are invading all sorts of previously dumb devices. Phones are now smart. Cars are becoming connected computers on wheels. Call it the computerization of everything. But how we interact with these machines is bound to evolve.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, touch pads are everywhere — in phones, in tablets and laptop screens. And Brad Feld has had enough.

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It's All Politics
12:26 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

In South Carolina, Perry, Gingrich Go On The Attack

Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign event at the Laurel Creek Club in Rock Hill, S.C.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 1:32 pm

As we noted earlier, all the candidates today are in South Carolina, and it did not take long before the gloves came off. As Ron previewed earlier, the hardest punches came in relation to Mitt Romney's business ventures.

We've looked around for what the candidates are saying at their different campaign stops. Here's a roundup, which we'll add to as the candidates make more stops:

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The Salt
12:02 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

FDA Cuts Off Orange Juice Imports Over Safety Concerns

Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
ANTONIO SCORZA AFP/Getty Images

When you think of your orange juice in its infancy, you probably envision neat rows of leafy green citrus trees in Florida or California — Tropicana and other companies' have helped seal that image in our minds.

But the reality is that a lot of our orange juice comes from Brazil — about 14 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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The Two-Way
12:02 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

'El Gordo,' Galaxy With Mass 2 Quadrillion Times The Sun's, Discovered

"El Gordo" — the "big" or "fat" one in Spanish — as seen in a composite image produced by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Hughes

Take the number 2. Put 15 zeroes behind it, as Space.com says:

2,000,000,000,000,000

Now, think about the news from this story at that website:

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The Two-Way
11:08 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Hundreds Of Pardons, Some For Killers, Spark Outrage In Mississippi

Just before he left office this week, outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) issued more than 200 pardons or sentence reductions — including more than a dozen to persons convicted of murder, manslaughter or other death-related crimes. And that has sparked outrage and calls for changes in the law that gives the state's governor such authority.

The list of Barbour's executive orders in the last four days before his departure from office on Tuesday is posted here.

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The Two-Way
10:50 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Google Tweaks Search To Boost Google+, And Rivals Get Angry

A screengrab shows Google's new search feature, in which results from a user's Google+ community are promoted at the top of the page.
NPR

Social media has become a huge part of how people experience the web. So it's not surprising that Google's move to integrate "personal results" into its web searches — drawing from a user's Google+ profile — wasn't praised by the folks who run rival social networks.

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The Two-Way
10:19 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Lost Touch: Peace Corps In Search Of 100,000 Old Volunteers

The National Peace Corps Association says it's looking for about 100,000 good volunteers.

They're people who served in the overseas development program at some time in its 50-year history but later lost touch with their former colleagues.

NPCA President Kevin Quigley says there's no complete list of the 200,000 Americans who volunteered for the program, in part because key records were lost during its early days.

"When the agency was in its infancy [in the early 1960s], a lot of systems for tracking former volunteers just didn't exist," Quigley says.

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The Two-Way
10:00 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Natalie Wood's Death Still Looks Like An Accident, Investigators Say

Natalie Wood in 1960.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 10:01 am

Two months after announcing they were going to take another look at the circumstances surrounding the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood, authorities in Los Angeles are saying there's "no evidence to suggest that the cause was anything but accidental," the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Music Reviews
10:00 am
Wed January 11, 2012

François Houle And Benoît Delbecq's Dream State

Pianist Benoît Delbecq.
Roderick Packe

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 10:02 am

It's been more than a decade since clarinetist François Houle and pianist Benoît Delbecq's previous recording, but Because She Hoped proves that they can a strike a mood together quickly. That quiet, misterioso air is one specialty, conjuring a dream state: a slow-motion sleepwalk.

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The Two-Way
9:39 am
Wed January 11, 2012

8 Killed In Syria, Including A French Journalist

Eight people were killed in the city of Homs today. While the circumstances are not entirely clear, we do know that among the dead was Gilles Jacquier, a French journalist with France 2.

The AP reports that the television channel announced his death, saying he was in Syria on a government-authorized reporting trip. "News director Thierry Thullier of France Televisions, the parent station of France-2, told French TV BFM that Jacquier appeared to have been killed by a mortar or rocket as part of a series of attacks," the AP reports.

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Book Reviews
9:39 am
Wed January 11, 2012

'Hope': A Comic Novel About the Holocaust?

Shalom Auslander is also the author of the short story collection Beware of God and a memoir, Foreskin's Lament. He is a frequent contributor to This American Life.
Franco Vogt Courtesy Riverhead Books

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 10:54 am

Years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, my husband and I were friendly with another couple who had a child the same age. The friendship came to an end when the wife of the couple let slip that her husband had dressed their daughter as JonBenet Ramsey for Halloween. "He has an offbeat sense of humor," the wife explained to me. That's one way to look at it. Or else, as I thought, maybe hubby's "humor" wasn't funny at all — just perversely detached from the horrific death of an actual 6-year-old.

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The Two-Way
9:30 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Suspect In Natalee Holloway Case Pleads Guilty To Murder In Peru

Dutch national Joran Van der Sloot as he arrived for a court hearing earlier today (Jan. 11, 2012) at the Lurigancho prison in Lima.
Ernesto Benavides AFP/Getty Images

Joran van der Sloot, the main suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, this morning pleaded guilty to the 2010 murder of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman, Stephany Flores, in Lima.

The Associated Press reports that van der Sloot told a court in Lima that "yes, I want to plead guilty. I wanted from the first moment to confess sincerely. ... I truly am sorry for this act. I feel very bad."

The wire service adds that:

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The Two-Way
9:10 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Beef Erupts Over Crossword Guru's Hip-Hop Slang Clue

A New York Times crossword puzzle clue asking for a 5-letter word that means "Wack, in hip-hop" led to an email and an argument over the real meaning of "illin'."
NPR

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 9:26 am

Under editor Will Shortz, The New York Times crossword puzzle has won fans for being in touch with the modern world — relying less on arcane words and more on a working knowledge of America's cultural landscape.

But according to some, Shortz took a false step with this past Saturday's puzzle, when he included a clue steeped in hip-hop slang. The clue asked for a 5-letter word that means "Wack, in hip-hop."

The answer was "Illin'".

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It's All Politics
8:44 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Mitt Romney Raised $24 Million Last Quarter

During the last quarter of 2011, Mitt Romney raised $24 million, his campaign announced today. That means the former Massachusetts governor has $19 million in cash on hand to fund his primary battle.

The Washington Post reports that in a shift from his 2008 run, when he poured $40 million of his own money into the campaign, Romney has made no personal donations.

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Author Interviews
8:31 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Why America's Spies Struggle To Keep Up

Matthew Aid is an intelligence historian. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Journal and The Financial Times.
courtesy of the author

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 11:00 am

Before Sept. 11, 2011, there were 16 intelligence agencies in the United States. But after the attacks, the 9/11 Commission recommended creating a 17th intelligence agency — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) — to coordinate intelligence operations.

The 16 already existing agencies didn't react well, says historian and former intelligence analyst Matthew Aid.

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Shots - Health Blog
7:55 am
Wed January 11, 2012

A Dozen Cases Of Tuberculosis That Resists All Drugs Found In India

An image of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria captured with an electron microscope.
CDC

Tuberculosis specialists in India have diagnosed infections in a dozen patients in Mumbai that are unfazed by the three first-choice TB drugs and all nine second-line drugs.

The doctors are calling them "totally drug-resistant TB," and the infections are essentially incurable with all available medicines.

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The Two-Way
7:45 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Fannie Mae CEO Will Step Down

Fannie Mae President and CEO Michael Williams testifies before the House Financial Services Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in December.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 7:47 am

Michael J. Williams said he is stepping down as chief executive of the quasi-governmental mortgage giant Fannie Mae. The company made the announcement late last night, saying Williams will wait to step down until the board of directors names a successor.

"I decided the time is right to turn over the reins to a new leader," Williams said in a statement.

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The Two-Way
7:10 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Hostess, Maker Of Twinkies, Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

A Twinkie shows off its creamy filling in this file photo from 2005. A snack-cake sales slump is one reason Hostess Brands is seeking protection from its creditors.
Tim Boyle Getty Images

Twinkies maker Hostess Brands Inc., is again seeking protection from its creditors, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the company tries to cope with high debt and rising costs of labor and raw materials.

Hostess, which also makes Ho Hos, Sno Balls, and Wonder Bread, is a privately held company based in Irving, Tex. It owes millions to suppliers and labor unions. The company has reportedly found some financing to keep it running during bankruptcy proceedings.

For our Newscast desk, Larry Abramson reports:

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The Two-Way
6:56 am
Wed January 11, 2012

U.S. Resumes Drone Strikes In Pakistan

Pakistani officials say the United States launched a drone strike early Wednesday morning for the first time since November. The AP says the drone strike killed four in North Waziristan, which is close to the Afghan border and has been a hot spot for U.S. strikes.

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The Two-Way
5:59 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Iran Says A Car Bomb Killed One Of Its Nuclear Scientists

An image grab taken from footage broadcast by Iran's state-run Arabic-language Al-Alam TV shows blood stains covered by a piece of cloth and debris at the site of the car bomb.
AFP/Getty Images

An Iranian nuclear scientists was killed by a car bomb in Tehran this morning, Iran's official news agency said. According to Press TV, Iran's English-language outlet, a magnetic bomb was placed beneath Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan's car by a man in a motorcycle.

Press TV says Roshan and his driver were killed and a bystander was injured. Roshan was a "chemical engineering graduate and served as marketing deputy of Iran's Natanz nuclear facility."

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It's All Politics
5:51 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Bain Attacks On Romney Recall Notorious 'Willie Horton' Ads

Mitt Romney greets supporters in Manchester, N.H., after seizing a second victory in his fight to be the party's presidential nominee.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 7:12 am

The satisfying victory Mitt Romney harvested in New Hampshire's primary this week was marred by the late eruption of a blemish. It could be a passing cloud in the otherwise blue Romney sky, or it could be the sign of storms ahead.

Does anyone remember Willie Horton? Does anyone remember the tragic trajectory of another Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis, in 1988?

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It's All Politics
5:38 am
Wed January 11, 2012

'New Hampshire And Beyond': A Special Elections Podcast

Voters cast ballots in the gym of the Webster School in Manchester, N.H., on Tuesday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 6:32 am

  • New Hampshire And Beyond: A Special Elections Podcast

Mitt Romney's convincing win in New Hampshire — and what that might mean for upcoming contests in the Republican presidential race — is the subject of a special podcast prepared fresh this morning from NPR News.

The podcast includes highlights from what the candidates had to say about the outcome in New Hampshire, plus NPR reporting on how Romney put together his victory. It also examines how the focus of the campaign will change as the GOP hopefuls descend on South Carolina ahead of that state's Jan. 21 primary.

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It's All Politics
5:34 am
Wed January 11, 2012

'Down And Dirty,' South Carolina Has History Of Quashing Challengers

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney laugh during a campaign event on Jan. 5 in Charleston, S.C.
Richard Ellis Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 3:23 pm

Now it's South Carolina's turn.

If the Palmetto State, the "First in the South" primary, plays its traditional role in the Republican presidential nomination process, it will be where the White House hopes of virtually every candidate except the eventual nominee will go to die in about 10 days.

It's not for nothing that it's called the "South Carolina Firewall." And at this moment, it's looking like it's Romney's firewall.

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Books News & Features
5:34 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Hatchet Job Award Honors Bad Writing

There's a new award for brutal book reviews in Britain: the Hatchet Job of the Year Award. A Julian Barnes book is dismissed as "just so... average." A biography of Martin Amis is called "spectacularly bad writing about spectacularly good writing."

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