The White House will unveil a broad, new strategy Thursday aimed at battling homegrown terrorism in the U.S. The program aims to empower communities by teaching local officials to recognize violent extremism and see the threat as a public safety issue, like the battle against gangs and drugs.
The Civil War ended slavery in America. So why, asks author Ta-Nehisi Coates, do African-Americans, who benefited most from the conflict, take so little interest in it? Coates, a confessed Civil War obsessive, wrote about that question in his recent article, "Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War?"
The story appears in a special issue of The Atlantic commemorating the Civil War.
Women's health advocates were quick to cry foul Wednesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the opinion of the Food and Drug Administration that the popular "morning after" emergency contraceptive "Plan B One Step" should be allowed to be sold without a prescription — and without age restrictions.
An investigation by the Washington Post shows that remains of 274 service members were cremated and disposed of in a landfill by personnel at Dover Air Force Base. Steve Inskeep talks to the Post's Craig Whitlock, one of the reporters who uncovered the story.
A new study documents the increasing crush of patients turning to free public clinics in the Houston area. Officials there are worried because they expect even more people to seek care when the Affordable Care Act, the federal health law, takes effect in a little over a year.
France and Germany are trying to persuade other European countries to sign onto a package of reforms aimed at shoring up the embattled euro. They're hoping to win agreement in time for Friday's big summit of European leaders in Brussels. A failure to reach agreement could send the wrong signal to the financial markets, which are already deeply worried about Europe's fiscal problems.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's approach to the debt crisis currently roiling Europe has been calm, logical, methodical and — according to detractors, especially outside Germany, too slow and unimaginative.
Critics are seething that she insists on austerity as the main medicine for debt-ridden southern neighbors while she offers no new ideas for growth and fiercely resists efforts to let the European Central Bank intervene more.
We've reported on the stories Bloomberg has released about the Federal Reserve. We also noted the story that is under the microscope currently in which Bloomberg said that over the course of less than two years, the Federal Reserve had guaranteed about $7.77 trillion in order to rescue the financial system and that it did not disclose the specifics of some loans to Congress.
One of television's most beloved commanding officers died Wednesday. Harry Morgan, who played Col. Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H, brought an avuncular authority to a show about the absurdities and horrors of war. He was 96.
In terms of weather, 2011 has made it into the record books. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that during this year, there have been 12 different weather disasters that cost more than $1 billion. The previous record was nine in 2008.
A few more facts from NOAA:
-- "These twelve disasters alone resulted in the tragic loss of 646 lives, with the National Weather Service reporting over 1,000 deaths across all weather categories for the year."
A couple of years ago, NPR's Robert Siegel had a 5-year-old kid moment.
He was in the new wing of a hospital watching a workman put up drywall and, as drywall installers are wont to do, the workman reached the top of the wall by walking on stilts.
The 5-year-old inside the radio host was suddenly enchanted by the thought of stilts, so Siegel set out to learn more; first through Google, then from Joe Bowen, who walked more than 3,000 miles across the country on stilts in 1980.
Greece fudged its budget numbers to enter the euro club, and its reputation as a source of accurate financial figures never really improved. As the country's financial crisis has worsened, the joke about its suspect fiscal numbers comes with the punch line, "lies, damn lies ... and Greek statistics."
The country sought to improve its standing last year when it created a new and independent statistical service, the Hellenic Statistical Authority.
The new and ever-changing world of social networking has blurred the lines between private and public, work and personal, friend and stranger. It's becoming a particular challenge for teachers who can quickly rile students and parents by posting comments or photos online.
In some cases, teachers have been fired for statements they've made on Facebook, which is raising free speech issues.
This summer, NPR told the story of a young man in Syria who worked a regular job by day and was a protester by night. At the end of that story, the activist made a prediction that was later tweeted to thousands of people: "One day my time is coming. Until the world realizes what's happening in Syria, they will try and get us all."
As the Egyptian elections roll on over the course of several more weeks, the incoming parliament looks likely to be dominated by Islamists. But the two leading Islamist blocs have little in common and are doing their best to undermine each other.
The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists do not get along in Alexandria's working-class slum of Abu Suleiman. Outside one polling station, the tension is thick as campaign workers for each group's political party hand out fliers.
For much of the Cold War, George F. Kennan was America's best-known diplomat and a leading Soviet scholar. His reputation was based in large part on the 1947 essay he wrote on containment, the Cold War policy that said the U.S. should neither forcefully confront nor meekly appease the Soviets.
Rather, the U.S. should seek to contain Soviet expansion, power and influence in the belief that the communist system would eventually collapse on its own. The U.S. largely adhered to Kennan's road map until the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991.
When the euro was set up in the late 1990s, the Stability and Growth Pact clearly spelled out the criteria for membership: Countries could not have huge debts, and they needed to keep deficits small. And there was no question — the rules explicitly excluded a little country named Greece.
"If you asked someone in Europe whether Greece would join the eurozone, the answer would have been you are mad, " says Loukas Tsoukalis with the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.
To many a mom, you can't go much lower than a Twinkie. The famous snack sort of epitomizes nutritional bankruptcy.
So now we learn that breakfast cereals such as Kellogg's Honey Smacks are even worse — in terms of sugar content — than a Twinkie. One cup of the cereal has 20 grams of sugar, compared with 18 grams in the cake. (The recommended serving size on the label is three-fourths of a cup.) Well, that gets our attention.
Fourteen years in federal prison, that's the sentence given today to former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted of 18 corruption charges. A federal judge in Chicago handed down the sentence after Blagojevich himself addressed the court and pleaded for mercy.
Mitt Romney had a handy counterargument for all those who have called him a political flip flopper: his apparent steadfastness in all his personal commitments, like his 42-year marriage to his wife Anne.
Turns out, that argument can do double duty since it helps Romney draw a contrast with Newt Gingrich who is on his third marriage.
Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 1:14 pm
Italian police had to drill into a concrete bunker underground to get to Michele Zagaria. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast unit, the arrest of the mob boss is "huge."
Sylvia adds that Michele Zagaria "is the head of one of the bloodiest clans of the Neapolitan mafia called the Camorra and they've been involved in an enormous number of illegal activity. Probably the most prominent is the illegal transport and disposal of toxic waste, which has become a huge problem in the whole Naples area."
Iowa Republican Charles Grassley took to the Senate floor Wednesday to declare that a senior Justice Department official "needs to go immediately" for allegedly misleading Congress in its 11-month-old investigation of a gun trafficking operation gone bad.
"It's past time for accountability at the senior levels of the Justice Department," Grassley said. "That accountability needs to start with the head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer."
In a 15-minute speech, Grassley set out two main reasons for demanding Breuer's ouster.
Back in June, the news out of the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign was dire.
Top staffers quit over differences about strategy, with some citing doubts about the candidate's seriousness — especially when he and his wife went on a cruise to the Greek Islands while his rivals stumped through New Hampshire and Iowa.
But now it's December, and Gingrich suddenly sits atop the polls. As a result, his organization is growing — as is the campaign brain trust. But Gingrich's most important adviser remains himself.
Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 12:48 pm
In the latest reminder that he's still in the race (if apparently not in the hunt) for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a new TV ad in Iowa in which he makes a naked appeal to the state's religious conservatives who are expected to play an important role in the upcoming caucuses.